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Publishing Your Research 101 - Ep.2 Writing Your Cover Letter

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[♪♪] [101] [ACS Publications] [Publishing Your Research 101] [Practical Guidelines for Authors & Reviewers from ACS Publications] [Guideline 2: Writing Your Cover Letter] [♪♪] [ACS Publications - Most Trusted. Most Cited. Most Read.] [female narrator] How important is the cover letter, and what should I consider as I write the cover letter? The cover letter can be very important with regard to giving the editor an idea [Paula T. Hammond - Associate Editor, ACS Nano] of how important this work is. Typically, the cover letter is read just before the article itself is looked at before a review. And some of the things that the editor is looking for is the context for the work. What is the significant finding? What is it that this work has done which then enables others in the field? Why is it that this particular audience--in our case the audience for ACS Nano-- would be particularly interested in this work? And in that cover letter if you're able to encapsulate that briefly, then it can be a very effective tool for helping the editor determine not only whether or not it's appropriate for the journal but who the reviewers should be. The most important thing for the cover letter [Timothy P. Lodge - Editor in Chief, Macromolecules] is to inform the editor what the major point or points of the paper are. In other words, what is it that the community will learn from this paper that we did not already know? This will help in the assignment of the associate editor, it will help in the assignment of the reviewers. In fact, it will help very much in the decision to send the paper out for review or not. So the cover letter is a very important part of the submission. [Jason H. Hafner - Associate Editor, ACS Nano] It's what you can use to really tell the editor and the editorial team why the paper is important, why it should be in the journal and various aspects, and you can sort of say it in a more casual language than you can say in the manuscript. You can really explain why you think this work was important and novel and interesting. So you should really put a lot of effort in the cover letter. I know it's sort of the last part after you've done all the work and written the manuscript, and there's a temptation to just kind of write it real quick and turn it in. But really spend a lot of time on that last part, and spend a lot of time on the cover letter. Sometimes the cover letter will repeat the points of the abstract. Sometimes it's just copied verbatim, and that's not a good idea because the editor already has the abstract and the conclusion. So you can put the same points written in a different way, or you can put entirely new points. You can talk about the field and the development of the field and why this is a significant development in the field if that didn't make it into the paper. So I would encourage even different points over more or differently stated points than what's in the paper itself. I think the cover letter is very important because the cover letter [Richard Eisenberg - Editor in Chief, Inorganic Chemistry] sort of provides a context and a basis for the work and why it should be published in the journal to which it's submitted. There are parts of the cover letter that may in fact overlap with the introduction or the introductory paragraph. I think it's very valuable to find out why the work was done and what was accomplished and what makes it new and different. And that can be summarized in the cover letter. The cover letter is also a place where authors can specify reviewers. And I think that that is very important as well. I'm a great believer as an editor in the peer review process and that the peer review process strengthens the quality of the science that's published. Therefore, it's important that we have reviewers who are expert in the area of the work because they help to strengthen the science. So authors should consider very seriously who they suggest as reviewers. These reviewers need to be truly competent in the specific area of the research. And we hope that that gets specified in the cover letter. [narrator] How should I go about selecting a journal to submit my work? When you're first putting together your paper, you should consider who your audience should be for that work. And you should then think about whether or not the journal you're thinking about fits that audience. So if you're really writing a paper that you think appeals to synthetic organic chemists and you want that group of people to learn about and hear about the system that you've generated, then you want to look for journals that really attract those readers. However, if you're looking for a much broader audience in the field of chemistry, then you should think about who appeals to that broader audience. So in all cases think about who your audience should be. You should also think about the level of significance of the work that you've done. Everything that we do is important, but there are different levels of significance. Sometimes we're following up on a big idea that we reported earlier. In that case it may not be appropriate to go to the top line journal. It may be more appropriate to go to the journal that really serves the field in reporting advances that are very specific to that field. So when selecting a journal, you've got to think about the audience and what kind of paper it is. There's really sort of--I think of it as two criteria. There's sort of brief letters that are reporting something really novel and some new and exciting result that you haven't really done all the detailed work yet, and then there's longer articles that sort of get all the detail and really complete the work. So you need to ask yourself, "Is this more of a letter or an article?" And then ask yourself, "The audience." "Is this something that everybody will want to see "so I need to send this to a wide audience journal?" "Or is this really something for the specialists so I should send it to more of a topical journal?" So you have to consider who the audience should be in the sense that maybe you have a result that's the biggest advance in the past decade in a field, but maybe it's only of interest to the specialists in the field. So you should still go to the topical journal, and it'll still be widely read and have a big impact on the field. Just because it's a significant result doesn't always mean the whole world wants to read it. So I usually try to really think about that. If I have something that's really specific, I go with the specific journal. And it all works out. [♪♪] [ACS Publications - Most Trusted. Most Cited. Most Read.] [American Chemical Society] [♪♪]

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 49 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 324
Posted by: acsvideo1 on Jun 21, 2011

Finally, the article is ready for submission. Now you need to write a cover letter. Is it that important? Do you really need to spend another few hours writing the cover letter, and then perhaps a couple days to allow your co-authors time to review, comment, and agree? Four of our journal editors share their views on the cover letter and how it can help them understand the significance of your work for their journal, and in the discipline.

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