How to Write a Pre-Submission Inquiry for an Academic Journal
Writing a good pre-submission inquiry can help you find the right journal for your paper the first time. Here are the things you should include and a template to get you started.
Updated on January 7, 2018
Finding the right journal match for your article is a difficult process, especially with the tens of thousands of journals publishing today. In cases where the best-fit journal is not obvious, a pre-submission inquiry (or a few) can help you save time. If a journal isn't interested in your paper, there is no need to spend time formatting your manuscript and going through the often-tedious submission process. And if the journal does encourage submission, you can feel a lot better about your chances for a full peer review. Of course, a positive response to a pre-submission inquiry does not guarantee acceptance, but it is a strong indication that the journal will seriously consider your work.
Here are the important features of a good pre-submission inquiry, along with an example. Unfortunately, not every journal accepts pre-submission inquiries, so you will want to check the journal's website before sending your inquiry. Others have actually created online processes for these inquiries, allowing your questions to be routed quickly to an appropriate editor for consideration. Either way, these inquiries won't work if your article isn't on a topic that's similar to what the journal publishes, so be sure to choose your target journals carefully, just as you would for full submission.
The anatomy of a pre-submission inquiry
If you can find the name of the Editor-in-Chief or a specific Managing Editor at the journal's editorial office, use that. It never hurts to address things personally. If not, a friendly greeting like “Hello,” is fine.
In a brief paragraph, let the journal know why you are writing -- and why you are writing to them in particular. Begin by saying that you want to know whether your article is suitable for this journal. Provide the title and use the receiving journal's name so they know you have written an individualized email. Explain that you believe the article is a good fit and let them know what you have sent (title, abstract, full text, cover letter, etc.)
Connection to the journal
In a second short paragraph, draw a connection between your results and the journal's scope. For example, if the journal covers the basis of bacterial diseases, and you have uncovered a novel protein that helps a pathogen bind to host cells, you should clearly describe this strong fit.
Thank the recipient for his/her time, and express interest in hearing their reply. Then close with a simple and pleasant “Sincerely,” or “Best regards,”.
Attachments and/or manuscript details
Finally, be sure to copy **at least the title and an abstract** for the journal. Oftentimes, this is enough for an initial inquiry of suitability for the journal's scope. If you have the full text for the manuscript (perhaps you have already submitted elsewhere but not accepted), it is fine to attach a copy. Likewise if you prepare a full cover letter, you can attach it to the email. (Be sure that the cover letter is appropriately personalized and specific to the journal.) A few journals request a cover letter with a pre-submission inquiry, but this is not frequently a requirement.
Sample pre-submission inquiry
Dear Dr. Jones,
I'm writing to inquire about the suitability of my paper, "[full paper title]" for Journal of Quality Science. I believe that the results we present would be a good fit for your readers, and I hope you will consider evaluating the manuscript to see if it falls within your journal's scope. Our title, and abstract are copied below. I have also attached the full manuscript, in case you or another editor would like to read further.
Specifically, we have shown [key finding] using [primary method]. These results fit nicely with Journal of Quality Science's aim of publishing works on [related aspect of journal's aims and scope]. If you have any questions about the manuscript, please let me know.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to your reply.
[your name and institutional affiliation]