Writing a Cover Letter and Response to Reviewers

red_penAfter reviewing your submission to an academic journal, the editors may have requested that you edit your manuscript according to suggestions made by peer reviewers who have evaluated its content.  This is a typical part of the publication process for peer-reviewed research publications, whether they are affiliated with a university or another organization.  Resubmission to a research journal does not guarantee publication, but a well-written cover letter with thorough responses to reviewers will show its editors that you are dedicated to your work and willing to improve upon it.

The main purpose of your response to reviewers is to tell the editors how you have revised your manuscript since your initial submission.  You should address each suggested revision made by the reviewers and explain how you have chosen to respond.  The document should be formatted in such a way that the editors can easily track changes made to your manuscript.  It should be organized by reviewer (e.g., Reviewer 1, Reviewer 2) and address the reviews point-by-point.  Comments and responses should be clearly distinguishable.

For example:

Reviewer 1

1.Your manuscript contains grammatical errors.  For example, on page 3, you used “their” when you should  have used “there.”

We have thoroughly proofread the manuscript and corrected all grammatical errors.

2. The second paragraph of your introduction needs more details about findings by Owl and colleagues (2017).  Be sure to explain their operational definition of “school spirit.”

We agree with Reviewer 1’s assessment of this paragraph and have decided to expand upon it.  We have provided a more detailed summary of Owl and colleagues’ findings, including the operational definition they used for “school spirit” for their study.

Reviewer 2

1. On pages 1 and 6, you did not include the year of publication in an in-text citation.

We have included years of publication as they correspond to the sources listed on the references page.

2. Two of the sources in your references lack a hanging indentation.

This error has been corrected; all sources are correctly formatted with hanging indentations.

Unless otherwise specified in the email your received from the editors, you may choose whether or not to make any suggested changes.  However, even if you do not change something that has been suggested, you must still address the suggestion in your response, and you must provide a compelling argument for your decision.

For example:

Reviewer 1

1. “Theatre” should be spelled “theater” because “theatre” is not the standard American English spelling.  This is a repeating occurrence.

While Reviewer 1 is correct that most Americans do spell the word “theater,” scholars in my field would accept the use of “theatre” in the context in which I use it in this manuscript.  Thus, I have chosen not to change this spelling.

Additionally, you should:

  • Use a professional letter format (i.e., address the correct audience, state your purpose, and be signed by the author(s) of the manuscript) for your cover letter.
  • Use a professional tone (i.e., use polite wording throughout the cover letter and response to reviewers, including when making your case for choosing not to follow a reviewer’s suggestion).
  • Make sure you have made any changes both within the manuscript AND described them within your response.
  • Make all changes and resubmit your manuscript, cover letter, and response to reviewers within the time frame allotted by the editors.