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Assignment of Application
Receipt and referral.
The Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) in the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) serves as the central receiving point for all competing applications, whether solicited or unsolicited. Upon receipt of a competing application, DRR: checks for completeness, determines area of research, assigns applications to one or more NIH Institutes or Centers (ICs) for possible funding, assigns an identification number that looks similar to this: 1-R01-MH123456-01, and assigns the application to a review group that has the expertise to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of the application. To reach the most appropriate assignment, DRR consults with ICs’ referral staff, Scientific Review Officers (SROs) and Integrated Review Group (IRG) Chiefs, and considers applicants’ requests (see Using a Cover Letter section below). For applications assigned to an IC review branch for peer review, a general assignment is made to that IC; the staff in the review branch subsequently decides whether the application is to be reviewed by an IC standing committee or by an IC Special Emphasis Panel (SEP). Additional information about this process at CSR may be found on their submission and assignment web page . As noted above, applications submitted to the NIH receive two assignments through the CSR DRR:
- Programmatic assignment is based on the overall mission, specific mandates and interests of the IC.
- The assigned IC is responsible for the overall administration of applications, and will potentially provide funding, depending on review and other considerations.
- Once assigned to a specific IC, your application will also be assigned to a Program Official within that IC (see Step 1 for details on the Program Official’s role ).
- The second assignment (review) is to the review cluster (Integrated Review Group [IRG]) as well as to a particular review committee (Scientific Review Group [SRG], often referred to as Study Section) that will review the application, either at CSR or within an IC. For example, some grant applications that are assigned to NIMH are reviewed by a NIMH Peer Review Committee or SEP instead of CSR. Review assignment is based on the specific description for each standing scientific review committee .
Identifying the Most Appropriate Review Committee for Your Grant Application
While CSR or the NIMH Review Branch retains the responsibility for making the final determination concerning assignment of grant applications to a particular review committee, it is often in your best interest to be familiar with the available choices and to express your opinion at the time of application submission (see Using a Cover Letter section below).
To help identify the most appropriate review committee, look at the description and recent rosters for each review committee. These can be found using the search feature or related links at:
- Integrated Review Groups (IRGs) conducted by CSR
- NIMH Peer Review Committees
Applicants should also consider seeking guidance from the Scientific Review Officer, IC Program Officer (often listed within the Funding Opportunity Announcement), and check out the NIH Reporter database of funded grants in order to identify the most appropriate review committee for you grant application.
One other type of review committee is the Special Emphasis Panel (SEP). These are special committees of experts that usually meet only once for the review of a specific set of applications. These types of applications may have been submitted in response to a specific Request for Applications, or are for specific grant mechanisms that are submitted only once per year, among others types of such applications. Because SEPs are set up on an as-needed basis, applicants cannot request a specific SEP. You can look for your assigned SEP and roster 30 days before the review on this list of SEPs . The SEP codes will have the prefixes ZRG1 for CSR review or ZMH1 for NIMH review (please note that ZMH1 SRC 99 is a holding code only, used by all review committees convened by NIMH, including those subsequently assigned to standing review committees or SEPs.)
Using a Cover Letter
Investigators may include a cover letter (a PDF attachment for electronic submissions) with their application. The information within a cover letter can help DRR in referring your application to a particular IC and help the SRO conduct the review. You can use a cover letter to suggest a particular review group, to suggest an IC you think would be interested in your research, to describe the kinds of expertise needed to review your application (you should not, however, list the names of potential reviewers), and to inform the SRO of potential reviewers who you feel might be in conflict with your application. While cover letters are encouraged, please note that CSR and IC review staff make the final assignment and conflict decisions after carefully considering your suggestions and explanations, in light of NIH policies and referral guidelines. Note that cover letters are for internal use only (i.e., referral staff and SROs). Cover letters are not provided to reviewers. You must have a cover letter for the following applications: resubmissions, applications requiring IC approval to submit (e.g., grants requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year), genome-wide association studies (GWAS) or those studies that plan to access GWAS data in the NIH repository, late applications, and continuous submission (in which case you should indicate that you are a member of a NIH study section qualified to submit at a nonstandard time).
Checking on Final Assignment
Information on the final programmatic and review assignments can be found in the eRA Commons page related to the grant application several weeks after submission. If the information is not clear or there are questions about assignment, contact the peer review contact (if any) listed in the Funding Opportunity Announcement or the Division of Receipt and Referral at 301-435-0715.
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Hints for Applicants
The Summer Programs are highly competitive. About 1 of every 8 applicants to the Summer Programs is selected. In the NHLBI, the selection process is initiated by the scientists themselves. They typically select students whose research interests and skills are of relevance to their ongoing research. Some investigators will select students based on key words in their application, while other investigators will select only from students who contact them directly. It is thus highly advantageous that applicants contact individual investigators to explain their interest and aptitude for the ongoing research.
Hints on How to Apply and Compete
- Take some time to identify areas of research that interest you. You should identify several researchers or laboratories whose research interests you most. Listings of researchers and their interests in the NHLBI and within all of NIH are available on-line.
- Also visit the web sites of NIH Institutes and Centers .
- Write a good cover letter describing your interest in health-related research, future academic plans, and reasons for seeking an internship at the NIH. Use this cover letter in your on-line application.
- Send an e-mail to investigators whose research interests you that tells them why you are interested in their research and how your research skills will be useful to them with a copy to the NHLBI Office of Education at: [email protected] . Correspondence with NIH Investigators and the Office of Education is most effective if it comes directly from potential summer researchers.
- Include information in your application and in the e-mail to investigators on past research experience, science awards, honors, student programs and participation in scientific meetings and poster sessions—attach copies of abstracts and scientific papers.
- Carefully proofread your application.
- The best recommendation letters are from science faculty, preceptors, etc. that have direct knowledge of your scientific interests and abilities. Letters from family friends are less useful.
- Graduating seniors should include information that you have been accepted to an academic institution at the next educational level, e.g., acceptance letter to college, professional school, etc.
- Be mindful about application deadlines. Apply early (before January 1) electronically on the NIH web site. If you have an interest in an internship in research going on at the NHLBI , select THE NATIONAL HEART, LUNG, AND BLOOD INSTITUTE in item #9 on the application.
- Selection of students by individual laboratories begins early in the year, well before the application deadline. Students who have been selected will be contacted by investigators and will receive notification of their selection from the Office of Education. Those who are not selected will receive notification during the month of May. The Office of Education will not be able to respond to inquiries about the status of a particular application.
For further information about the NHLBI DIR Summer Internship Program, including help on choosing a mentor, please contact the Summer Program Coordinator by calling 301-451-9440, emailing [email protected] , or visiting NHLBI DIR Office of Education at Building 50, Room 4139, Bethesda, MD 20892-8033
Back to Summer Research
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How to apply for grants funded by NIAAA and manage existing grants.
Applications Requesting $500,000 or More in Direct Costs
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has updated its policy on the acceptance of applications requesting direct costs of $500,000 or more for any one year. Effective with the January 1, 2002 receipt dates, applicants must seek agreement to accept assignment from Institute/Center staff at least 6 weeks prior to the anticipated submission of any application requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year. If staff is contacted less than 6 weeks before submission, there may be insufficient time to make a determination about assignment prior to the intended submission date. If the requested dollars are significantly greater than $500,000, then approval should be sought even earlier. This policy does not apply to applications submitted in response to RFAs or in response to other announcements that include specific budgetary limits. However, such applications must be responsive to any budgetary limits specified, or they will be returned to applicants without review. An applicant planning to submit a grant application (new, resubmission, revision) with $500,000 OR more in direct costs for any year is required to contact program staff in writing. This contact should be made during the development process of the application but no later than 6 weeks before the anticipated submission date. The packet that will be submitted to the Program Officer should include the following:
- List the PI/PD, Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and anticipated submission/receipt date.
- Specific Aims
- Detailed Budget (first year only)
- Budget all years
- Budget Justification
- Scope of work
- Detailed budget (first year only)
- Budget justification
If the request is approved, the PI will receive an invitation from eRA. In addition, the PI must include a cover letter with the application. The cover letter must identify the program staff member and Institute or Center that has agreed to accept assignment of the application. An eRA invitation letter may be attached to the cover letter. An application received without indication of prior staff concurrence and identification of program staff contacted will be returned to the applicant without review. Therefore, NIH strongly encourages applicants to contact Institute or Center staff at the earliest possible time.
For additional information about this policy, the program staff at any Institute or Center may be contacted. Reference:
- NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-02-004 , October 16, 2001 "REVISED POLICY ON THE ACCEPTANCE FOR REVIEW OF UNSOLICITED APPLICATIONS THAT REQUEST $500,000 OR MORE IN DIRECT COSTS"
- NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-O5-004 , November 2, 2004 "REVISED POLICY ON APPLICATIONS THAT INCLUDE CONSORTIUM/CONTRACTUAL FACILITIES AND ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS"
Updated October 31, 2022
Apply for a Grant
Letters of support.
Your application should include letters of support from your institution, key personnel, collaborators, and other significant contributors. Relevant letters of support will assure your peer reviewers that your collaborations and institutional commitments are on the right track.
What To Include
The letter text should demonstrate the commitment of your institution and contributors. Summarize the agreements you have in place to support your project.
Familiarize yourself with the recommendations given in the SF 424 Letters of Support instructions.
In multi-component applications, you may include letters of support in the overall component, other components, or both unless stated otherwise in the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO). You may also be instructed to begin the Letters of Support attachment with a table of letter authors, their institutions, and the type of each letter (e.g., institutional commitment).
Specifics for Collaborator Letters
When you request a letter of support, consider providing your collaborator a summary of your agreement as a convenient starting point. Discuss with them what information you think needs to be included.
The letters of support should clearly describe what type of support your collaborators will provide (e.g., reagents, animals, human samples, technology). Make sure to indicate whether the support is available to anyone on request or if your collaborator will provide it to only you. Our staff consider the latter point as they determine who may review your application without conflict.
Note that this letter is not the same document as your formal written agreement with the collaborator. Do not include the text of the formal agreement itself with your letters of support or your application. The formal agreement is for your benefit. NIH does not request, use, or need a copy of it. Learn more about Using Subawards .
Don’t Send Too Many Letters of Support
Include the letters as described in the NOFO’s instructions, but don’t assume that even more letters would be better. We strongly advise against collecting letters of support solely as endorsements of your reputation, expertise, or research plans.
In some cases, applicants have provided over a thousand letters of support. Large quantities of letters pose a significant burden on peer reviewers as they try to determine which are truly relevant to the project.
Unnecessary letters can also limit the pool of experts who are allowed to review your application. Due to potential conflicts of interest, anyone who writes a letter may not review your application. You might unintentionally eliminate the scientists who could have been your best supporters on the review panel.
Find our central list of Types of Letters for Grant Applications .
Guide to Cover Letters
Your cover letter is often the first document an employer sees. It serves not only as an introduction to your résumé or CV but to you and your writing style. Take advantage of this opportunity to expand upon your qualifications. A cover letter also allows you to: » Elaborate on important experiences/skills and relate them to job requirements. » Explain your experiences through anecdotes that work in conjunction with the information provided on your résumé/CV. » Highlight the fact that you took the time to tailor your job application. » Provide a sample of your written communication skills You should always send a cover letter with your résumé or CV. …
Marketing Your Research Experience for Project Management Positions
Getting a faculty job.
‘Tis the season for academic faculty job searches. From summer until late fall, the bulk of faculty jobs are accepting applications to fill positions that begin in the fall of the following year. If you are considering this route, here are some things you need to think about: What kind of school do you want to be at? Do you want to be at a large research university (like Columbia University in NYC), a state school that terminates in a master’s program (like Eastern Michigan University), or a liberal arts environment (like Swarthmore College). Each of these types of institutions has different expectations regarding the amount of teaching and research…
You forgot your job packet email attachment– What now?
You found an awesome job posting or graduate program, crafted the perfect curriculum vitae, and created a cover letter capable of convincing the staunchest of holdouts that you are a vital addition to their team. The only problem is you remembered to attach your resume after pressing send on your cover letter e-mail. Forgotten attachments happen to everyone, but the job application process is where you are supposed to distinguish yourself as a better candidate than everyone else. So – now what? Unlike many career advice searches on the internet, there are not a lot of professional sites with comments on forgotten attachments. The obvious action requires you to send…
Putting Together Your Job Package
If you have been following out Calendar for Career Success, you know that August is the time to put together your job packages. Whether it be for an academic positions, a postdoc or a transition to a new career field, you need to have a competitive application. We have provided some information below we feel will be helpful in this endeavor. What is a Job Package? – A job package almost always includes a CV OR resume and a cover letter. It is important to know whether you will want to include a CV versus a resume. However, regardless of which one the job calls for you will want to…
Top 7 Reasons That You Should Visit A Career Counselor
In the beginning of January, we posted a calendar with monthly steps to move your career forward. The February task was to meet with a career counselor. Here at OITE, we have two career counselors on staff. Anne and Elaine were kind enough to introduce themselves on the blog a couple of years ago. What makes them an enormous asset for you is that they exclusively advise scientists. They understand the career dynamics of fellows here at NIH and researchers in general. They have a wide breadth of knowledge and experience in career counseling and have already helped hundreds of fellows take the next step in their careers. Whether you…
Tomorrow’s Professor: Preparing for the Academic Job Market
During the AAAS talk last week on the academic job market, I was encouraged by the opinions shared by current faculty. I imagined that the academic job market was as bleak–if not more so–than the non-academic market. On the contrary…to paraphrase the speakers, “the best people are still finding jobs.” Still, you must put your best foot forward to be a standout candidate on the academic market. If you find the entire process of applying for academic jobs overwhelming, or are not sure where to start, check out the OITE workshop held last month for an overview of the academic job market and tips on preparing your application package. You might also want…
Back to Basics: Crafting a Winning Cover Letter
“To Whom It May Concern”…no, that’s not right….”Dear Sir/Madam”….ugh, that’s so outdated….”Dear I-Don’t-Know-Your-Name-and-I’d-Rather-Be-Playing-Scramble-Right-Now…” Where to start? Many of us still struggle when it comes to crafting a cover letter for a job of interest. I thought it might be valuable to review some of the basics, as job hunting may be new to some of us, while others of us may know that we need to strengthen our letters, based on a lack of positive feedback. Let’s begin: Q: How should I address my letter if I don’t have a name? A: Stay away from “Sirs” and “Madams,” and try a title instead. Use something like “Dear Director of Personnel,”…
- Policy & Compliance
- Peer Review Policies and Practices
- Simplifying Review of Research Project Grant Applications
Simplified Peer Review Framework
Learn about the simplified review framework that will apply to most research project grant (RPG) mechanisms for application due dates of January 25, 2025 or later. The new framework applies specifically to the following types of RPGs: DP1, DP2, DP3, DP4, DP5, R01, R03, R15, R16, R21, R33, R34, R36, R61, RC1, RC2, RC4, RF1, RL1, RL2, U01, U34, U3R, UA5, UC1, UC2, UC4, UF1, UG3, UH2, UH3, UH5, (including the following phased awards: R21/R33, UH2/UH3, UG3/UH3, R61/R33).
The Simplified Framework for NIH Peer Review Criteria retains the five regulatory criteria ( Significance , Investigators , Innovation , Approach , Environment ) but reorganizes them into three factors — two will receive numerical criterion scores and one will be evaluated for sufficiency. All three factors will be considered in arriving at the Overall Impact score. The reframing of the criteria serves to focus reviewers on three central questions reviewers should be evaluating: How important is the proposed research, how rigorous and feasible are the methods, and whether the investigators and institution have the expertise/resources necessary to carry out the project.
- Factor 1: Importance of the Research ( Significance , Innovation ), scored 1-9
- Factor 2: Rigor and Feasibility ( Approach ), scored 1-9
- Factor 3: Expertise and Resources ( Investigator , Environment ), to be evaluated as either sufficient for the proposed research or not (in which case reviewers must provide an explanation)
The change to having peer reviewers assess the adequacy of investigator expertise and institutional resources as a binary choice is designed to have reviewers evaluate Investigator and Environment with respect to the work proposed. It is intended to reduce the potential for general scientific reputation to have an undue influence.
Five regulatory criteria reorganized into three factors
For due dates before Jan 25, 2025
- Significance - scored
- Investigator(s) - scored
- Innovation - scored
- Approach - scored
- Environment - scored
- Significance, Innovation
- Scored 1 - 9
- Approach ( also includes Inclusion and Clinical Trial (CT) Study Timeline )
- Investigators, Environment
- Valuated as appropriate or gaps identified; gaps require explanation
- Considered in overall impact; no individual score
Additional Review Criteria Before Jan 25, 2025
- Human Subject (HS) Protections (for HS and CT)
- Vertebrate Animal Protections
- Bio hazards
- Study Timeline (for CT only) *
- Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children (for HS and CT) *
Revised Additional Review Criteria
- Human Subject Protections (for HS and CT)
- Applications from Foreign Organizations **
- Select Agent Research **
- Resource Sharing Plans **
- Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources
- Budget and Period of Support
Inclusion criteria and coding (considerations of sex/gender, inclusion across the lifespan, race/ethnicity of the study population), study timelines for clinical trial applications, and plans for valid design and analysis of Phase III clinical trials, previously evaluated under Additional Review Criteria, will be integrated within Factor 2 (Rigor and Feasibility). This change will help to emphasize the importance of these criteria in evaluating scientific merit, rather than as issues of policy compliance.
Peer reviewers will no longer evaluate the following Additional Review Considerations: Applications from Foreign Organizations, Select Agents, Resource Sharing Plans. These considerations will instead be administratively reviewed by NIH prior to funding.
Review Criteria Within the Simplified Framework
Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).
Reviewers will evaluate Factors 1, 2 and 3 in the determination of scientific merit, and in providing an overall impact score. In addition, Factors 1 and 2 will each receive a separate criterion score. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.
Additional Review Criteria
As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, but will not give criterion scores for these items, and should consider them in providing an overall impact score.
Additional Review Considerations As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.
This page last updated on: October 19, 2023
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Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine: How to Write a Cover Letter?
- 1 Nutrition and Endocrine Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
- 2 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, School of Medicine, City University of New York, New York, USA.
- 3 Endocrine Physiology Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
- PMID: 34567139
- PMCID: PMC8453652
- DOI: 10.5812/ijem.115242
A cover (covering) letter is a brief business letter introducing the scientific work alongside the submission process of a manuscript and is required by most scientific peer-review journals. A typical cover letter includes the name of the editor and the journal, date of submission, the characteristics of the manuscript, the importance of the work and its relevance to prospective audiences, declarations such as author agreements, conflicts of interest statement, funding source (s), and ethical statements. The letter also includes the contact information of the corresponding author (s) and may also include suggestions of potential reviewers. Spending enough time to draft an informative, comprehensive, and concise cover letter is quite worthwhile; a poorly drafted one would not persuade the editor that the submitted work is fit for publication and may lead to immediate rejection. Here, we provide a practical guide to draft a well-written, concise, and professional cover letter for a scientific medical paper.
Keywords: Cover Letter; Medical Scientific Journals; Scientific Publishing; Scientific Writing.
Copyright © 2021, International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
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How to choose a journal and write a cover letter
DN Journal Publishing Services, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 8UA, UK
Selecting a suitable journal for submitting a manuscript can be a complex and confusing task, and end in disappointment when a paper is rejected quickly for reasons that may not be clear to the author. There have been several articles written offering advice on journal selection, but this article is the most thorough of its kind, using recent evidence to inform the strategies presented. This article provides details on the factors involved in optimal journal selection, giving insights into how to identify suitable journals, why particular criteria are important and ideal methods to approach this task. The article also includes a spreadsheet tool for tracking information about potential titles of interest and submission details, and finally, provides notes on supporting your submission with an effective cover letter.
Why Publish in Journals
Publishing in scholarly journals is just one form of output from a research project, and one of the most significant pressures on modern academics is to produce papers and find suitable journals which will accept them.[ 1 , 2 , 3 ] This process is not always easy, particularly for Early Career Researchers, as the number of options and determining factors is increasingly complex. This paper provides detailed information on the journal selection process, but before considering this, I will first consider why journal publication remains such an important aspect of the research cycle.
Journals are the principal means researchers use to facilitate communication between other groups of researchers, between specialist fields, and to the public.[ 4 ] In addition to this, they play a key role in institutional assessment of individual researchers and groups.[ 5 ] Journals help to set intellectual, methodological, operational, technical, best practice, and many other forms of standards within their communities;[ 6 ] and through the peer review process, research is validated through the element of scientific publishing, which distinguishes it from all other communication mediums, certifying the authenticity and veracity of the research. The Publons Global Peer Review Survey[ 7 ] of over 14,300 researchers included the question “How important do you consider peer review for ensuring the general quality and integrity of scholarly communication?” Overall, 12,394 respondents answered this question, with 98% stating this was “important” or “extremely important.”
Does Choice of Journal Matter?
A report by the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers[ 8 ] estimates the number of active journals at around 33,100 English-language, plus a further 9,400 non-English-language journals (a total of 42,500), publishing over 3 million articles a year. Though the numbers diminish rapidly when considering one specific field these figures still indicate the scale of the journal selection task, as well as the competitive nature of article submission, and the question remains: does journal choice matter?
To answer this question, this article will discuss several aspects of research publishing which may help guide or influence the decision on which journals are suitable for any particular paper. Some choices may be guided by external pressures such as funder or institutional requirements; other factors relate to the topic of the research in hand, matching aims, and scope or instructions of a journal and other factors will be personal preference.
Create a Journal Information Spreadsheet
The first step in identifying suitable journals for a paper is to create a means of capturing, comparing, and contrasting the information about each of the journals which might be deemed suitable. Creating a personalized information sheet about journals in your field will be a resource that can be returned to, updated, and expanded over time. An Excel spreadsheet template is included as supplementary material, with 29 fields of information covering everything that will be discussed in this paper. Table 1 shows an excerpt from the supplementary table .
Excerpt of the first 12 column details from the supplementary journal selection information spreadsheet
How to Identify a Journal
The following sections offer a process for identifying journals, three key methods for creating a list of potential journal names, and strategies to investigate the details of each.
Your Reference List
The first place to begin identifying suitable journals to submit is through the references which inform your own work. The journals which publish the articles you have cited are likely to be relevant choices for your own work; particularly, those which inform the most fundamental aspects of your paper such as the background research through which you developed your research questions; on which your methodology is drawn; and any work which your findings either corroborate or contradict.
You may wish to identify journals not referenced in your paper. Indexing databases such as Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, or any of the many field-specific databases offer search and filtering options to identify articles and journals of interest.
Use the “advanced search” functions in these websites with keywords or short phrases of significant details and limit the publication years to the current and previous year (e.g., 2017–2018). The search results will show a list of recently published works that tell you these journals are currently active and interested in those topics.
The results from these platforms may include book titles, conference proceedings publications, or other formats which you are not interested in. Filter the results list for the most appropriate matches, adding relevant journal titles to your list. You can also use these databases to retrieve a certain amount of useful information to add to your journal information spreadsheet.
Depending on your personal preference or mandates from funders or institutions, you may be required to publish your work as open access (OA). If you wish to identify only open access journals, use the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)[ 9 ] and Science Open[ 10 ] as your search databases. Science Open indexes articles available as open access through which you may identify journals, even if they are not full OA titles. DOAJ, as the name suggests, is a comprehensive database of 12,205 open access journals, and almost 3.5 million articles (at time of writing). DOAJ has thorough criteria for assessing journals for inclusion in its database, aiming to include only journals which publish and perform peer review to a high standard; therefore, it serves as a useful resource for helping identify potentially “predatory” journals (a concept which will be discussed in detail later in this article).
Additionally, the Journal/Author Name Estimator (JANE)[ 11 ] is a useful independent platform created by academics to help authors identify suitable journals based on the abstract or keywords of a paper.
To identify journals within a specific publisher you may use their own platforms to search for keywords and topics. Most well-established publishers provide some searching and filtering functionality in their websites, but some, such as Elsevier's “Journal Finder”[ 12 ] and Springer's “Journal Suggester”[ 13 ] offer more sophisticated text-matching. Like the JANE journal locator, these platforms allow you to use your article title or abstract to produce a list of results with a similarity match score that helps you filter the most relevant options.
Aims and Scope
Once you have a list of journal titles you will need to investigate further to determine how suitable these journals really are for your manuscript. It is very important to understand the types of research a journal publishes as failure to fit this criteria is the main reason for immediate rejection of articles; “About 20-30% of the manuscripts can very quickly be categorized as unsuitable or beyond the scope of the journal.”[ 14 ]
To achieve this you will need to visit the homepages of each journal and thoroughly read around the site as well as recent articles. This may be time-consuming, but the information you obtain through this process can be referred to when you submit future papers.
The aims and scope, “about” section or other such mission-statement related page is where the journal should make clear the specifics of the subject in which it specializes. Is it a broad scope multi-disciplinary journal such as PLoS,[ 15 ] Nature,[ 16 ] or RIO[ 17 ]? Is it a large-scale multidisciplinary journal within a single field, such as eLife,[ 18 ] The Lancet[ 19 ] or New England Journal of Medicine[ 20 ]? Or does it have a very narrow focus for a specific field, such as The Lancet Oncology,[ 21 ] Clinical Infectious Diseases,[ 22 ] or Blood[ 23 ]?
If the journal mentions a national or geographical area in the title, this could mean different things which should be explained in the aims and scope. If the journal is named as regional, does it publish work which focuses on a country or geographical area, or is it simply based in that region (e.g., European Scientific Journal[ 24 ])? It may consider work from outside the region that compares populations or other findings from the area, giving the work relevance to the journal community, such as this publication, the Saudi Journal of Anesthesia, which states that it aims to “stimulate associated scientific research and communication between hospitals and universities in Saudi Arabia, the Arab countries and the rest of the World.”[ 25 ]
International journals may not simply accept papers from anywhere in the world. It could be that they accept only those papers which are created through an international authorship, involve an international range of participants or subjects, or provide evidence that is collected or relevant on a global scale (e.g., International Journal of Psychology[ 26 ]).
Make notes of whether the geographic scope will be relevant to want you need to achieve with your own work.
If the aims are not clear, look at the titles of several issues worth of papers to give you a clearer sense of what papers the journal publishes. You should get a good idea of the topics and geography of articles, as well as what the journal has been interested in over the previous year. Does your paper fit with their publication trends? Will it help to continue this trend, or will it add something new and relevant? Or does it seem unsuitable?
The aims and scope may also state the community of the journal. Is the journal intended for primary researchers, society members, people working in applied settings, industry, or the public? Does it appear that your paper is relevant to that audience?
Instructions for Authors
It is important to check this section thoroughly and to ensure your paper is formatted according to all requirements. This is one of an author's least favorite aspects of journal submission, with different journals having different instructions that create significant time reformatting should you need to submit to subsequent journals after your first. However, as inconvenient as these formatting requirements may be some journals can be very strict on enforcing them and along with the aims and scope, failure to conform to formatting instructions is A common reason for immediate rejection of papers.[ 27 , 28 ]
The types of research articles a journal accepts may be in the aims and scope or instructions for authors, but usually the latter. Look for lists of article types and details of formatting requirements for each, such as original empirical research, single studies, multivariate analysis, review articles (narrative reviews summarizing recent developments in a field, or systematic/meta-analysis, which provide statistical analysis of data over a wider timeframe). Some journals are review only some do not accept review articles at all. Case reports particularly in practical journals and applied specialities such as nursing or occupational health, and other shorter form papers, such as letters to editor, discussion or response to articles, book reviews may also be detailed.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many types of articles and different terminology used for each type, but be sure the journal accepts the type of paper you are writing.
Word limits are another of the more important aspects and these may differ between article types. Word counts can often apply to titles, abstracts, main text, and figure captions, so be sure to make a note of what the word count includes. There may also be limits to the number of keywords, figures, tables, and references.
Is there a preferred manuscript structure? Does the journal allow or disallow headings and are there formatting conventions? Should the abstract be structured (e.g., with headings for Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion), or is a single paragraph of text allowed?
Is there a standardized referencing or formatting style given, such as Harvard, APA, or Chicago, or does the journal describe its own formatting in detail? Is there a set template for formatting manuscripts provided in the website, or can you use a LaTeX editing template though Overleaf,[ 29 ] Authorea,[ 30 ] or other service?
Accessibility and Discoverability
Does the journal describe any social media presence, marketing activity, and the indexing databases in which it is listed? This aspect of journal selection will inform you of where your article may be found, the likelihood of your paper being promoted by the journal and discovered by readers. If the journal claims to be indexed in particular databases, can you verify this is the case by searching and finding them?
Speed of Peer Review and Publication
Journals are becoming increasingly transparent about their peer review processes and many may even provide statistics on the average peer review times or time from first submission to publication. For example, the Elsevier “Journal Finder” tool provides such peer review and production timeframes for the journals it returns in the search results. This information can be helpful for adjusting your own expectations of how long the process should take. The website SciRev provides subject-area level data on several measures of peer review timeframes, based on research in 2017 by Huisman and Smits,[ 31 ] with which you can benchmark journal processes; for example, the average time for a first decision on a fully reviewed paper in the Medicine category is 8 weeks, and from first submission to acceptance is 12 weeks.[ 32 ]
Is the journal closed-access subscription-based, fully open access, or a hybrid of the two? What are the fees for open access? Does it offer waivers for residents of certain countries (e.g., adopting the Research4Life program). In addition to OA fees, are there additional charges for color figures or any pages over a certain number? It is important to look for this information first in case you are met with an invoice for payments during the production stages.
The licensing and copyright options of the journal should also be made clear. If the journal is a subscription model, can you see the terms of passing copyright to the publisher before you submit? Can you obtain them to determine whether you are happy with the conditions? If the journal is open access, does it mention the Creative Commons licenses under which open access articles can be published? Does it offer a choice of options?
The publication model may affect whether the journal complies with any funding body or institutional mandates that determine where you must publish your article.
Does the journal allow you to post articles to preprint servers during the peer review stage? Will it consider papers that are already available as a preprint. Will you be allowed to post a preprint on your website after acceptance?
Both the publication models and policies around preprints can have implications for the readership and sharing potential for your work both during review and postpublication, and the rights you retain as the author of your work.
Ethics Statements and Adherence to Guidelines
Does the journal provide any ethics statements about its editorial processes, expectations of its editors, reviewers, and authors, and give information about other ethical or legal requirements it expects authors to adhere to or comply with on submitting articles.
Journal ethics may fall into two categories, both of which will be important for you to take note of Editorial/publishing ethics and research ethics. Research ethics are likely to be requirements you will need to state when submitting your article, such as evidence of institutional review board acceptance of methodologies or patient consent. Publication ethics refers to expectations regarding plagiarism, simultaneous submission to multiple journals, agreement from all authors to submit and several other measures.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)[ 33 ] is the definitive body on publishing ethics. Many journals are members of this organization and will display badges or statements from COPE on their websites. This should reassure you that the journal intends to conduct itself to a high standard and give you recourse should you feel anything unethical occurs in the handling of your paper. COPE provides many resources for authors which you should familiarize yourself with if you are new to the submission process or have not visited their website before.
Does the journal have a Clarivate Web of Science Impact Factor (IF) or Elsevier Scopus Journal rank score (SJR) or CiteScore, or Google Scholar H-Index? Are you required to submit to a journal with one of these metrics?
The recent Author Perspectives on Academic Publishing report by Editage,[ 34 ] based on a survey of 6,903 researchers found the highest rated factor which influenced authors' choice of journal was Impact Factor. However, the survey also reported that “one reason why authors find journal selection so difficult is that they struggle to find a journal that both has the required Impact Factor and is likely to accept their manuscript.” This finding illustrated that although Impact Factor is desired criteria for various reasons, it is not an efficient or effective means by which most authors can, or should, use to determine which journal to select. Of the 42,500 journals worldwide mentioned at the start of this paper, just 11,655 across 234 disciplines[ 35 ] have an Impact Factor. This alone illustrates how restrictive the options to authors can be when limiting the criteria to these metrics.
This paper acknowledges that the requirement to publish in Web of Science or Scopus indexed journals exists, and authors often need to select a journal based purely on metrics such as the Impact Factor or SJR, but also cautions against using this as an isolated search criteria where possible, and supports the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA),[ 36 ] which was established to “ensure that hiring, promotion, and funding decisions focus on the qualities of research that are most desirable – insight, impact, reliability and re-usability – rather than on questionable proxies” (statement from DORA Roadmap, June 27, 2018).
In addition to the Impact Factor, a journal may provide additional alternative article-level metrics on its webpages. These may be in the form of usage, pdf download, or other readership statistics, or Altmetrics[ 37 ] or Plum Analytics[ 38 ] information. These latter platforms are at the forefront of the alternative metrics movement and may give you insights into how articles from a journal are used, the communities which discuss the papers and other forms of impact, attention, and presence which are not based on citation metrics. Alternative metrics capture mentions on social media platforms, news media, blogs and websites, the use of articles in policy or other official documents, discussions on postpublication peer review sites, additions to bibliography platforms such as Mendeley, and many other sources. All this activity gives insight into the presence of the journal, what topics have been of particular interest, and the reaction with which your paper may be met.
Taken alone, the validity and integrity of using all metrics discussed in this section for assessment purposes and journal selection is questionable and inadvisable; however, these metrics do offer some function when using the database sources of these metrics as search tools in combination with other factors discussed in this paper.
Look at the editorial board of the journal. Do you recognize any of the names? Are any of the board members cited in your paper? If so, it is likely that your paper is within the scope of the journal. If you do not recognize any of the board and no information is provided about their field, or even institution, you could search for some of the key members online to see if they are specialists in the area of your article.
If you are unable to find any of the members online, or their details do not match what is provided on the journal site, then you should leave this journal off your list, a situation which brings us to the final part of the journal selection section of this article: predatory publishing.
No article discussing journal selection and open access would be complete without mention of “predatory publishing.” This term refers to publishers or journals that take advantage of the open access publishing model to be money-making operations with no regard for the scientific endeavour. This is a simplified definition of a more complex socioeconomic phenomenon that this paper will not analyze in great detail but is important enough to mention, as there is some evidence that these journals are damaging the reputation of open access as a legitimate publishing option,[ 34 ] which is a perception that needs countering.
The most commonly used term for these journals appears to be “predatory publishers” or “predatory journals.” They are also known as “fake journals,” “scam journals,” “trash journals,” “illegitimate journals,” among other terms. I prefer the term “shell journals,” as this accurately describes the lack of rigorous scholarly service, particularly peer review, and technical infrastructure required to ensure the integrity and permanence of scientific research. The term “deceptive journals” is also particularly appropriate, as often these journals make claims of integrity, peer review processes, indexing database status, or metrics to convince inexperienced authors that the journal is a more viable platform than it actually is. The core problem of these journals is perhaps in identifying what they lack, rather than how they act.
There is an increasing body of research and gray literature that aim to provide rubric for identifying problematic journals, most famously the controversial, and now closed, Beall's List, and more recently a scoping review by Cobey et al .,[ 39 ] yet none have been able to provide decisive, noncontradictory statements around any single measure or process for assessing such journals. Identification of these journals often requires a combination of problems to be apparent, and the ability to recognize the details which signify these problems. The methods and details discussed in this paper will help to identify suitable journals with confidence and ensure that by meeting all criteria required for your paper, journals with poor practices that do not offer what you need will be weeded out, regardless of who the publisher of that journal is.
Writing a Cover Letter
Cover letters are something of a controversial topic, with some journal editors ignoring them, but others paying close attention to all they receive. The number of submissions each editor must deal with may play a role in preference for reading cover letters or not but that does not mean you should ignore this step.
A good cover letter need only includes a few key features to effectively support your submission.
First, address the editor by name, but be sure you have the right name and the correct name of journal, especially if you are submitting to a second or subsequent choice journal. Author addressing the wrong editor and journal is a situation which occurs more often than you would expect and does not make a good impression.
If there are several coeditors, you could address the person you feel is the specialist on the topics of your paper. If you do not know this information, mention all by name, or simply address your letter to “Dear Editors.”
Next, the important pitch to the editor about the value of your article: Briefly describe the main theme of your paper, the relevance it has to the journal, and the contribution your paper makes to existing knowledge.
To support the description of your paper, you could check to see whether the journal has published papers on similar topics in the previous year (which you are likely to have done when researching your list). Does your paper fit with their publication trends? Will it help to continue this trend, or will it add something new that remains relevant? Make these statements in your letter and mention specific papers. It is a nice touch to imply that you are familiar with the content of the journal and helps to reinforce your claims that your paper is relevant and should be reviewed.
You may also include suggestion of three to six reviewers for process. These suggestions may not be used, but any work you can do to make the job of the editor handling the review process easier will be appreciated. These could be names of authors cited in your references, editorial board members, or other scholars you are aware of in the field. You should not suggest any colleagues, collaborators, close acquaintances, or other individuals who would have a conflict of interest in reviewing your paper.
You may also name individuals who should not review your paper. These could be close collaborators, competitors, or others you feel would not be able to give your paper a bias-free review.
Finally, formal declarations should be provided, stating your work is original, has not been simultaneously submitted to another journal, that all named authors give permission for the paper to be submitted, that you have no conflicts of interest in the findings and conclusions presented in the paper, and name any funding bodies which supported the work. You may also name any individuals who provide feedback or presubmission comments on your paper. If you have uploaded your paper to a preprint server, you should provide the reference.
This information should be no more than half a page but will efficiently convey to the editor why your paper is suitable for the journal and how it will be of interest to its readers.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest.
There are no conflicts of interest.
What to Include in a Financial Advisor Cover Letter
Posted: November 1, 2023 | Last updated: November 2, 2023
A cover letter isn’t just an add-on to your job application. It effectively highlights and sells your skills and experiences as a financial advisor. Your cover letter is your first opportunity to demonstrate how you can be a good fit for a job. Here are the key components and and tips that could help your cover letter stand out for likely firms.
After you become a financial advisor, SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor platform can help you connect with potential clients.
Why You Should Include a Financial Advisor Cover Letter
Working with a professional to craft your cover letter can prove beneficial. In the same way you, as a financial advisor , would guide your clients through their financial decisions, a career coach or consultant can guide you through the job application process.
When it comes to financial advisor roles, a cover letter will not only showcase your skills, knowledge and experience, but also help you present a compelling argument for why you are the best candidate for the job.
A cover letter, for example, can focus on your approach with clients and how you help them reach different financial milestones or get through economic downturns.
You should note that a cover letter may be the first thing that an employer sees from you. And many employers consider cover letters an important part of the job search process. So crafting a well-strategized letter is a key component for getting hired.
How to Create a Result-Oriented Financial Advisor Cover Letter
Your cover letter is a tactical introduction that is engineered to put your best foot forward. And as such, it should deliver a personalized introduction that offers additional insight to the skills, experiences and interests that you have already included in your resume.
Depending on the job, there are many types of cover letters. However, all cover letters generally have these five sections:
- Header: This typically includes your contact information, such as your address, phone number and email, as well as social media and portfolio links when applicable.
- Greeting or salutation : This is the equivalent of looking at someone in the eyes for the first time. Stand out by researching and including the hiring manager’s name. This personalized approach can beat out a generic one by demonstrating your level of commitment to the job and the firm.
- Introduction : Don’t bury the lede! This first paragraph should call attention to who you are and why you want the job. Make sure you explain clearly what draws you to the firm, and set up what are your core strengths and how these will fit into the position (you will go deeper into this in the body).
- Body : Here you’ll have more real estate, typically two paragraphs, to state your case. First, explain how your professional experiences apply specifically to the position and the firm. Then, connect how that background as a financial advisor and your career goals align with the firm’s culture.
- Call-to-action or closing: This is the final paragraph! Seal the deal by restating your interest in the role and propose next steps (like a conversation or potential interview).
Take note: As with any introduction, paying attention to details goes a long way. Make sure your cover letter is edited and formatted correctly. Avoid repetition and cliches. And lastly, make each sentence count. The purpose of the cover letter is to support this clear idea: You are a strong candidate for the position, and you are genuinely excited about working at the firm.
Refining Your Skills as a Future Financial Advisor
Soft skills like adaptability, communication and time management can be valuable for financial advisors. You will also need to combine these with hard skills like accounting, data analysis or marketing, among others, to prove yourself a valuable asset to a firm.
Of course, these skills are not based on natural talents alone. You can develop them by setting goals, finding a mentor, seeking constructive criticism and enrolling for additional certifications or degrees (more on this in the next section). You can also take advantage of training offered at a firm and even shadow other financial advisors.
Keep in mind that when you draft your resume and cover letter, you should put a spotlight on the skills that best fit the job description. So if a firm has a type of client base , and offers specific services, show your potential employer that you have the necessary hard and soft skills to excel at the job.
Tips for Aspiring Financial Advisors
As you build up your career as a financial advisor, here are four key tips to consider:
- Continue your professional education : Sign up for courses and keep up with proposed legislation or changes in rules and laws. Educate yourself on different financial trends and strategies. Your ability to keep learning will show your commitment to the field and make you an essential resource for clients.
- Earn important certifications : Financial advisors, while not required, often carry certain certifications to demonstrate specific knowledge and abilities. Common certifications include certified financial planner ( CFP ), chartered financial analyst ( CFA ), chartered financial consultant ( ChFC ) and certified public accountant ( CPA ), among other designations.
- Maintain your LinkedIn : An updated profile highlighting your skills on professional platforms like LinkedIn can help you make valuable connections with other peers in the industry and connect with potential clients as well.
- Be persistent: Most professionals do not find a rewarding career by accident. Instead, you will need to be persistent, mentalize yourself to get back on your feet when an opportunity passes, and perhaps more importantly–keep trying.
An effective cover letter can capture the attention of recruiters. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Financial advisors are continuously evolving with their clients. So staying ahead of the curve will help you drive your career forward. Regular updates on financial markets and active participation in financial advisor conferences can also keep you connected.
Tips for Becoming a Financial Advisor
- If you’re just getting started on your financial career path, consider our guide on how to become a financial advisor in six steps . The sooner you start, the sooner you can work toward a rewarding career.
- Once you become a financial advisor, one of the most important things you’ll do is find as many clients as you can. SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor platform can help you connect with potential clients.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Delmaine Donson, ©iStock.com/wichayada suwanachun, ©iStock.com/KamiPhotos
The post What to Include in a Financial Advisor Cover Letter appeared first on SmartReads by SmartAsset .
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