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I wrote a cover letter that takes 2 pages: 1 for the main text explaining the purpose of the research and why it is important, and 1 consisting of my name and institutional details plus references.

1) Should a cover letter be of 1 page maximum in general? It is not mentioned the journal's website. If this is the case, I guess I should play with the font size and line spacing.

2) Is it ok to include two citations to emphasize my writing? I included the two references right after mentioning my institutional details.

  • 1
    Are you citing your own work or that of others? – aeismail May 17 '18 at 14:33
  • I am citing the work of others. – JrCaspian May 17 '18 at 14:53
  • Depends upon the journal's guidelines. Also, some journals have gone away from cover letters and only use online submission forms. – Richard Erickson May 17 '18 at 15:09
  • @RichardErickson Some online submissions forms still have an entry for "Cover letter" (I think I already submitted articles without writing anythin). – anderstood May 17 '18 at 16:03
  • Please specify your field. Different fields have different customs. – Alexander Woo May 18 '18 at 20:23
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I think you should shoot for a one page cover letter, but it's not a requirement. The goal of the cover letter is to convince the editor that the submission is suited for their journal, and send it out to reviewers, so your first priority is to make the editor read the letter with a positive mind. This is usually easier with a shorter letter, but as I said, it's not an absolute requirement.

If your letter summarizes the results, discusses the potential readership, and also explicitly addresses e.g. significance criteria, it may be harder to fit it on one page. If fluff content like author names, affiliations*, etc. spill over on the next page, I wouldn't worry about it. If you fill the next page with more text, I'd start trying to cut down on it, if at all possible. What you shouldn't do is to play with margins and font sizes. That's very transparent, and doesn't improve e.g. word count and the reader's willingness to put in the time.

*I've never put affiliations in cover letters, as it is in the paper and submission systems anyway. Maybe this varies from field to field, and between single and double blind journals.

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Shouldn't "explaining the purpose of the research and why it's important" be in the paper's abstract and introduction rather than in the cover letter? I'm accustomed to cover letters of the form "Dear [Editor's name], I would like to submit the [enclosed in the old days / attached nowadays] paper, [title of paper], for publication in [name of journal]. Sincerely, [name of author]".

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    Many journals now require that the authors indicate how their contribution meets the "significance" and "subject matter" criteria of the journal as part of the cover letter. – aeismail May 17 '18 at 14:48
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    Well, I find it important to explain briefly why the editor should consider my work. It is often mentioned in the author guide of journals I consider to publish in. – JrCaspian May 17 '18 at 14:56
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I have always written short cover letters (say, half a page). Something like

Dear [Editor / editor's name],

We are pleased to submit the enclosed manuscript entitled [blahblah]. We believe it brings [blahblahblah] and has some applications in [blahblah].

Best regards,

[your name], on behalf of the co-authors

Adding references is IMHO far too detailed! If the editor wants more details, he/she can read the abstract or the whole article.

You might want to specify your research field to get more specific answers.

  • Some journals explicitly require that the authors explain in a cover letter why their manuscript should be published in the journal (because it meets certain criteria, or a generic explanation of the significance of the submission). I regularly have submitted to at least three such journals. – aeismail May 17 '18 at 16:06
  • @aeismail Then the OP should specify if that's the present situation. Also, you might have seen that my suggestion does include a generic explanation of the signification of the submission... We believe it brings [blahblahblah] – anderstood May 17 '18 at 16:08
  • Why all the downvotes? – Oleg Lobachev May 17 '18 at 19:40

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