An Associate Editor is at the frontlines of manuscript revision, submission, and review. We’re going to chat a bit with Dr. Danny D’Amore. Danny is a spectacular resource as LetPub so posing our author’s most commonly asked questions should yield some tremendous insight. As you’ll see, Dr. D’Amore deals in the finest details and nuance of manuscript preparation as she manages our author submissions from start to finish. This brief interview will reveal a wealth of tips and tricks for improving your acceptance rate and generally expediting the publishing process.
LetPub: Thanks for jumping in with us Danny, can you share a bit of your field expertise and key our readers into your editorial skills?
Dr. D’Amore: My field of expertise is ecology and evolution. If you really want to get specific, I studied animal behavior in my doctoral program, and did my research looking at how humans shape the behaviors of invasive species! While animal behavior is a pretty large field, my own research was a bit niche – it’s helped become very strong in synthesizing the available literature to come up with new ideas. I also did quite a bit of manuscript reviewing for journals during my time in academia. Reading has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember, and the ability to apply an analytical mind to manuscripts is rather practical when it comes to editing all types of research. Fields may vary, but the scientific processes (as well as sentence structure and the flow of paragraphs) are always a common thread.
LetPub: Most authors are finding it challenging to select a journal from the massive set of options. Any tips for getting things narrowed down? Questions for authors to ask themselves?
Dr. D’Amore: My first question to myself is always “Where are the first places I look for supporting literature?” when I’m getting ready to prepare a new manuscript. If nothing springs to mind immediately, I use a tool instead of trying to rack my memory for something. The journal selection on LetPub is particularly useful for this, because there are dozens upon dozens of biology or ecology journals, and the tools allow me to filter my search. I particularly like being able to single out journals by their IF and if they support open access!
LetPub: With a target journal in mind, what approach do you usually take to manuscript preparation and submission for that journal? Anything our readers should be researching?
Dr. D’Amore: I always look at my target journal’s author guidelines! I can’t emphasize enough how important this can be. Some journals have very specific styles, citation formats, or spelling requirements; knowing these before I start outlining my project can really cut down on unnecessary work. Additionally, knowing about any potential length requirements can come in real handy during the preparation stages.
LetPub: What about a cover letter? Necessary? Recommended?
Dr. D’Amore: Some journals do require them, so I always recommend checking the target journal’s guidelines before making any decision. Personally, I usually include one when given an option. I feel it allows me one more opportunity to make a positive impression on the editor handling my manuscript before they even ready it.
LetPub: If we’re going ahead with a cover letter, how can authors do it right and have an impact? What’s the key to making it more than just a formality?
Dr. D’Amore: I think there are two key items. The first is to make it ‘personal’ – if the journal lists the handling editor’s name, I include it. Additionally, I always make sure to include why I think my manuscript would be a good fit for the journal, and why the journal’s readership would be interested. Additionally, I think it should be kept short and sweet. The most important facet of the paper should be highlighted, the reason it is the ‘right fit’ should be highlighted, and I leave it at that! Editors have a lot to read, so while I want to make a good first impression, I do not want to overwhelm them upon first glance.
LetPub: Okay, last question. When you get that first look at a submission, what triggers a good perception for you at first glance? Any subtle items of manuscript preparation that make you optimistic about the paper before you even get into the core scientific content?
Dr. D’Amore: I think a well-organized paper gives me optimism. More specifically, I find a well-structured introduction section usually indicates the rest of the paper will be equally as well organized. Ideas flow from background information to the specific questions being asked, and how the authors are asking them. Usually, if authors are able to outline this in the introduction, I find they stick to this organization throughout the rest of the manuscript. I think preparation before writing is key!