The purpose of scientific cover letters: FREE SAMPLE


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May 05, 2016

Luke Fleet, Senior Editor at Nature Physics, talks about cover letters as an opportunity to informally discuss the highlights of your paper with the editor.

This video has been taken from the module 'Submitting Your Paper' in our Scientific Writing & Publishing Course. Find out more about getting access to the course.

  • - So, cover letters are quite funny creatures. 00:05
  • We see a broad spectrum of things written in cover letters. 00:07
  • What you have to remember is that the cover letter 00:10
  • is your direct link to the editor, 00:12
  • so it's good to put yourself in the editor's shoes, 00:14
  • think about what the editor's job is, 00:16
  • you know, what have you done in the work? 00:18
  • How is this an advance 00:20
  • and how will that appeal to the readership of the journal? 00:22
  • This is what the editor's going to be looking at 00:25
  • and thinking about and basing their decisions on. 00:26
  • And there are some instances 00:29
  • where cover letters are especially useful. 00:30
  • If you're presenting results 00:33
  • that go against a previous work 00:35
  • or a similar experiment has been performed 00:38
  • and conflicting or competing hypotheses put forwards, 00:40
  • it can very helpful if the authors frame their work 00:44
  • to explain how they're perhaps providing 00:48
  • definitive evidence or just to put it more into context. 00:50
  • I know that some editors handle things differently 00:55
  • but for me personally, 00:59
  • I like to go through the papers first, 01:00
  • look at what has been done, 01:02
  • you know, decide how much of an advance this is 01:05
  • and whether this is gonna excite the interest 01:07
  • of my readers. 01:09
  • I then go to the cover letters 01:11
  • to have a look to see what the authors say 01:13
  • that they have done, 01:16
  • and sometimes this doesn't always match up 01:18
  • and in cases where, you know, 01:20
  • they're very borderline, the cover letters 01:22
  • can be very, very helpful in this scenario. 01:24
  • You know, as authors, you know the work 01:28
  • in your manuscript better than anybody else. 01:30
  • You know, you should use the cover letters 01:34
  • to tell other people why they should be as excited 01:36
  • by the work as you, you know, 01:39
  • be your own best advocate. 01:41
Medium luke fleet

Luke Fleet

Senior Editor, Nature Physics, Nature Research

Luke joined Nature Physics in 2014, having previously been an editor for Nature Communications. Following a PhD on semiconductor spintronics from the University of York, in collaboration with the RIEC at Tohoku University, Luke undertook postdoctoral research at Imperial College London and the London Centre for Nanotechnology in molecular spintronics and organic electronics.

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