20.109(S09): Journal club letter

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This assignment will give you a chance to take a big picture view of the journal article that you present to the class. Normally when a scientific article is submitted for publication, it undergoes a multi-stage review process. The editors of the journal take a quick look over the submission, then decide whether to send it to other scientists in the field for a thorough peer review. Nature alone publishes about a thousand papers per year (including scientific articles, book reviews, editorials, etc.), and receives many more that do not make the cut. Thus, those aspiring to publish their research in a quality journal must catch the editor’s eye – briefly and convincingly – in a cover letter highlighting their work. Consider the researcher who wrote your chosen journal article, and put yourself for a moment in his or her shoes to write such a letter. There is no one accepted format, but keep the following questions in mind, as they will surely be on the mind of the editor: What is the main question that this paper addresses and why is it important? What are the one or two key findings? What is the significance of these findings to the larger field? To help you place your paper in a broader context, look over the review article(s) associated with your paper category here.


This assignment is due on the same day that you give your journal club presentation, March 17th through 20th by 11 am. You are submitting a final draft that cannot be revised for an improved grade. Update: this assignment will be due on Module 2, Day 4 for everyone, whether you are presenting on Day 3 or Day 4.

Skeleton Letter

You may find the abstracted letter below helpful. Its structure is the important quality for you to emulate – but not exactly, feel free to be creative! Please strive for an elegant academic, concise tone in your own work. In total, 300-400 words should suffice.

To the Editors:

We are pleased to submit a manuscript entitled ‘TITLE HERE,’ for consideration as an article in PUBLICATION HERE. This sentence states the essential question asked by our work and its significance.

This brief paragraph motivates our work by summarizing the state of the relevant research field and its current limitations.

The next 1-2 paragraphs specify what novel research was done and why it is important. Some useful starter phrases might be: “The goal of our research was to assess…” “We approached this question by the following methods…” “One of the problems with previous work in the field was… which we solved by…” “Using this strategy, we made the following scientific discoveries…” “Moreover, we found that our work could be used in the following applications” “Thus, our work is of interest to the following fields…”

We look forward to hearing from you.


Researcher Name Here