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How to Write a Good Cover Letter for a Research Position

Writing a cover letter can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be!

Some people believe cover letters are a science. Others seem to think they are more akin to black magic. Regardless of how you feel about cover letters, they are one of the most important parts of the job application process. Your resume or CV may get you an interview, but a good cover letter is what ensures that the hiring manager reads your resume in the first place.

Writing a cover letter for any job is important, but the art of writing a good cover letter for a research position can make or break your application. While writing a cover letter for a research position, you have to walk a fine line of proving your expertise and passion while limiting jargon and dense language.

In this post, we will explain cover letter writing basics, and then dive into how to write a research specific cover letter with examples of both good and bad practices.

hands typing on blank google doc

What Is A Cover Letter and Why Do Cover Letters Matter?

A cover letter is your opportunity to tell a story and connect the dots of your resume. Resumes and curriculum vitae (CVs) are often cold and static—they don’t show any sort of character that will give companies a hint about if you will fit in with their culture. 

Your cover letter gives you the chance to demonstrate that you are an interesting, qualified, and intelligent person. Without proving that you are worth the time to interview, a company or research organization will set your application in the rejection pile without giving it a second look. 

So, what is a cover letter, exactly? It is an explanation (written out in paragraph form) of what you can bring to the company that goes beyond the information in your resume. Cover letters give a company a glimpse into the qualities that will make you the ideal candidate for their opening. 

Note that a cover letter is not the same as a letter of intent. A cover letter is written for a specific job opening. For example, if I got an email saying that the University of Colorado was looking for a tenure track faculty member to teach GEO 1001, and I chose to apply, I would write a cover letter. 

A letter of intent, however, is written regardless of the job opening. It is intended to express an interest in working at a particular company or with a particular group. The goal of a letter of intent is to demonstrate your interest in the company (or whatever type of group you are appealing to) and illustrate that you are willing to work with them in whatever capacity they feel is best. 

For example, if I loved the clothing company, Patagonia and wanted to work there, I could write a letter of intent. They may have an opening for a sales floor associate, but after reading my application and letter of intent, decide I would be better suited to a design position. Or, they may not have any positions open at all, but choose to keep my resume on hand for the next time they do. 

Most organizations want a cover letter, not a letter of intent, so it is important to make sure your cover letter caters to the specifics of the job posting. A cover letter should also demonstrate why you want to work at the company, but it should be primarily focused on why you can do the job better than any of the other applicants.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter: The Basics 

Writing a cover letter isn’t hard. Writing a good cover letter, a cover letter that will encourage a hiring manager to look at your application and schedule an interview, is more difficult (but certainly not impossible). Below, we will go over each of the important parts of a cover letter: the salutation, introduction, body, and conclusion, as well as some other best practices.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Salutation

Don’t start with “Dear Sir/Ma’am” (or any iteration of a vague greeting, including “to whom it may concern”). Avoiding vague greetings is the oldest trick in the book, but it still holds a lot of weight. Starting a cover letter with the above phrase is pretty much stamping “I didn’t bother to research this company at all because I am sending out a million generic cover letters” across your application. It doesn’t look good. 

The best practice is to do your research and use your connections to find a name. “Dear Joe McGlinchy” means a lot more than “Dear Hiring Manager.” LinkedIn is a great tool for this—you can look up the company, then look through the employees until you find someone that seems like they hire for the relevant department. 

The most important thing about the salutation is to address a real human. By selecting someone in the company, you’ve demonstrated that you’ve done some research and are actually interested in this company specifically. Generic greetings aren’t eye-catching and don’t do well.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Introduction

Once you’ve addressed your cover letter to a real human being, you need a powerful introduction to prove that this cover letter is worth the time it will take to read. This means that you need a hook. 

Your first sentence needs to be a strong starter, something to encourage the hiring manager not only to continue reading the cover letter, but to look at your application as well. If you have a contact in the company, you should mention them in the first sentence. Something along the lines of “my friend, Amanda Rice (UX/UI manager), suggested I apply for the natural language processing expert position after we worked together on a highly successful independent project.” 

The example above uses a few techniques. The name drop is good, but that only works if you actually have a connection in the company. Beyond that, this example has two strengths. First, it states the name of the position. This is important because hiring managers can be hiring for several different positions at a time, and by immediately clarifying which position you are applying for, you make their job a little bit easier.  Next, this sentence introduces concrete skills that apply to the job. That is a good way to start because it begins leading into the body, where you will go into depth about how exactly your experience and skills make you perfect for the job. 

Another technique for a strong lead-in to a cover letter is to begin with an applicable personal experience or anecdote. This attracts more attention than stereotypical intros (like the example above), but you have to be careful to get to the point quickly. Give yourself one or two sentences to tell the story and prove your point before you dive into your skills and the main body of the cover letter.

A more standard technique for introductions is simply expressing excitement. No matter how you choose to start, you want to demonstrate that you are eager about the position, and there is no easier way to do that than just saying it. This could take the form of “When I saw the description for X job on LinkedIn, I was thrilled: it is the perfect job for my Y skills and Z experience.” This option is simple and to-the-point, which can be refreshing for time-crunched hiring managers. 

Since we’ve provided a few good examples, we will offer a bad example, so you can compare and contrast. Don’t write anything along the line of: “My name is John Doe, and I am writing to express my interest in the open position at your company.” 

There are a few issues here. First, they can probably figure out your name. You don’t need that to be in the first sentence (or any of the sentences—the closing is an obvious enough spot). Next, “the open position” and “your company” are too generic. That sounds like the same cover letter you sent to every single employer in a hundred mile radius. Give the specifics! Finally, try to start with a little more spice. Add in some personality, something to keep the hiring manager reading. If you bore them to death in the first line, they aren’t going to look over your resume and application with the attention they deserve. 

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Body

So, you’ve addressed a real human being, and you’ve snagged their attention with a killer opening line. What next? Well, you have to hold on to that attention by writing an engaging and informative cover letter body. 

The body of a cover letter is the core of the important information you want to transmit. The introduction’s job was to snag the attention of the hiring manager. The body’s job is to sell them on your skills.  There are a few formatting things to be aware of before we start talking about what content belongs in the body of the cover letter. First, keep the company culture and standards in mind when picking a format. For example, if I want to work for a tech startup that is known for its wit and company culture, I can probably get away with using a bulleted list or another informal format. However, if I am applying to a respected research institution, using a standard five paragraph format is best. 

In addition, the cover letter should not be longer than a page. Hiring managers are busy people. They may have hundreds of resumes to read, so they don’t need a three page essay per person. A full page is plenty, and many hiring managers report finding three hundred words or less to be the idea length. Just to put that into context, the text from here to the “How to Write a Good Cover Letter Body” header below is about perfect, length-wise. 

Now, on to the more important part: the content. A cover letter should work in tandem with a resume. If you have a list of job experiences on your resume, don’t list them again in the cover letter. Use the valuable space in the cover letter to give examples about how you have applied your skills and experience. 

For example, if I have worked as a barista, I wouldn’t just say “I have worked as a barista at Generic Cafe.” The hiring manager could learn that from my resume. Instead, I could say “Working as a barista at Generic Cafe taught me to operate under pressure without feeling flustered. Once…” I would go on to recount a short story that illustrated my ability to work well under pressure. It is important that the stories and details you choose to include are directly related to the specific job. Don’t ramble or add anything that isn’t obviously connected. Use the job description as a tool—if it mentions a certain skill a few times, make sure to include it!

If you can match the voice and tone of your cover letter to the voice of the company, that usually earns you extra points. If, in their communications, they use wit, feel free to include it in your letter as well. If they are dry, to the point, and serious, cracking jokes is not the best technique.

A Few Don’ts of Writing a Cover Letter Body   

There are a few simple “don’ts” in cover letter writing. Do not: 

  • Bad: I am smart, dedicated, determined, and funny.
  • Better: When I was working at Tech Company, I designed and created an entirely new workflow that cut the product delivery time in half. 
  • Bad: When I was seven, I really loved the monkeys at the zoo. This demonstrates my fun-loving nature. 
  • Better: While working for This Company, I realized I was far more productive if I was light-hearted. I became known as the person to turn to in my unit when my coworkers needed a boost, and as my team adopted my ideology, we exceeded our sales goals by 200%. 
  • Bad: I would love this job because it would propel me to the next stage of my career.
  • Better: With my decade of industry experience communicating with engineers and clients, I am the right person to manage X team. 
  • Bad: I know I’m not the most qualified candidate for this job, but…
  • Better: I can apply my years of experience as an X to this position, using my skills in Y and Z to… 
  • Bad: I am a thirty year old white woman from Denver…
  • Better: I have extensive experience managing diverse international teams, as illustrated by the time I…  

The most important part of the cover letter is the body. Sell your skills by telling stories, but walk the razor’s edge between saying too much and not enough. When in doubt, lean towards not enough—it is better for the hiring manager to call you in for an interview to learn more than to bore them.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Conclusion

 The last lines of a cover letter are extremely important. Until you can meet in-person for an interview, the conclusion of your cover letter will greatly affect the impression the hiring manager has of you. A good technique for concluding your cover letter is to summarize, in a sentence, what value you can bring to the company and why you are perfect for the position. Sum up the most important points from your cover letter in a short, concise manner. 

Write with confidence, but not arrogance. This can be a delicate balance. While some people have gotten away (and sometimes gotten a job) with remarks like, “I’ll be expecting the job offer soon,” most do not. Closing with a courteous statement that showcases your capability and skills is far more effective than arrogance. Try to avoid trite or generic statements in the closing sentence as well. This includes the template, “I am very excited to work for XYZ Company.” Give the hiring manager something to remember and close with what you can offer the company. 

The final step in any cover letter is to edit. Re-read your cover letter. Then, set it aside for a few hours (or days, time permitting) and read it again. Give it to a friend to read. Read it aloud. This may seem excessive, but there is nothing more off-putting than a spelling or grammar error in the first few lines of a cover letter. The hiring manager may power through and ignore it, but it will certainly taint their impression. 

Once the cover letter is as flawless and compelling as it can be, send it out! If you are super stuck on how to get started, working within a template may help. Microsoft Word has many free templates that are aesthetically appealing and can give you a hint to the length and content. A few good online options live here (free options are at the bottom—there is no reason to pay for a resume template).

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Research Position

Writing a cover letter for a research position is the same as writing any other cover letter. There are, however, a few considerations and additions that are worth pointing out. A job description may not directly ask for a cover letter, but it is good practice to send one unless they specifically say not to. This means that even if a cover letter isn’t mentioned, you should send one—it is best practice and gives you an opportunity to expand on your skills and research in a valuable way.

Format and Writing Style for a Research Position Cover Letter

Research and academics tend to appreciate formality more than start-ups or tech companies, so using the traditional five paragraph format is typically a good idea. The five paragraph format usually includes an introduction, three short examples of skills, and a concluding paragraph. This isn’t set in stone—if you’d rather write two paragraphs about the skills and experience you bring to the company, that is fine. 

Keep in mind that concise and to-the-point writing is extremely valuable in research. Anyone who has ever written a project proposal under 300 words knows that every term needs to add value. Proving that you are a skilled writer, starting in your cover letter, will earn you a lot of points. This means that cover letters in research and academia, though you may have more to say, should actually be shorter than others. Think of the hiring manager—they are plowing through a massive stack of verbose, technical, and complex cover letters and CVs. It is refreshing to find an easy to read, short cover letter. 

On the “easy to read” point, remember that the hiring manager may not be an expert in your field. Even if they are, you cannot assume that they have the exact same linguistic and educational background as you. For example, if you have dedicated the last five years of your life to studying a certain species of bacteria that lives on Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, all of those technical terms you have learned (and maybe even coined) have no place in your cover letter. Keep jargon to an absolute minimum. Consider using a tool like the Hemingway Editor to identify and eliminate jargon. While you want to reduce jargon, it is still important to prove that you’ve researched their research. Passion about the research topic is one of the most valuable attributes that a new hire can offer. 

Use your cover letter to prove that you have done your homework, know exactly what the institution or group is doing, and want to join them. If you have questions about the research or want to learn more, it isn’t a bad idea to get in touch with one of the researchers. You can often use LinkedIn or the group’s staff site to learn who is working on the project and reach out.

What Research Information Should be Included in a Cover Letter

A research position cover letter is not the place for your academic history, dissertation, or publications. While it may be tempting to go into detail about the amazing research you did for your thesis, that belongs in your CV. Details like this will make your cover letter too long. While these are valuable accomplishments, don’t include them unless there is something  that pertains to the group’s research, and your CV doesn’t cover it in depth. 

If you do choose to write about your research, write about concrete details and skills that aren’t in your CV. For example, if you have spent the last few years working on identifying the effects of a certain gene sequence in bird migration, include information about the lab techniques you used. Also, try to put emphasis on the aspects of your resume and CV that make you stand out from other candidates. It is likely that you will be competing with many similarly qualified candidates, so if you have a unique skill or experience, make sure it doesn’t get lost in the chaos—a cover letter is the perfect place to highlight these sorts of skills. 

Industry experience is a great differentiator. If you have relevant industry experience, make sure to include it in your cover letter because it will almost certainly set you apart. Another valuable differentiator is a deep and established research network. If you have been working on research teams for years and have deep connections with other scientists, don’t be afraid to include this information. This makes you a very valuable acquisition for the company because you come with an extensive network

Include Soft Skills in Your Cover Letter

Scientific skills aren’t the only consideration for hiring managers. Experience working with and leading teams is incredibly valuable in the research industry. Even if the job description doesn’t mention teamwork, add a story or description of a time you worked with (or, even better, lead) a successful team. Soft skills like management, customer service, writing, and clear communication are important in research positions. Highlight these abilities and experiences in your cover letter in addition to the hard skills and research-based information. 

If you are struggling to edit and polish your letter, give it to both someone within your field and someone who is completely unfamiliar with your research (or, at least, the technical side of it). Once both of those people say that the letter makes sense and is compelling, you should feel confident submitting it.

Cover letters are intended to give hiring managers information beyond what your resume and CV are able to display. Write with a natural but appropriately formal voice, do your research on the position, and cater to the job description. A good cover letter can go a long way to getting you an interview, and with these tips, your cover letters will certainly stand out of the pile.

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Research Scientist cover letter template header

How to Write an Research Scientist Cover Letter (With Template)

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Key takeaways

  • A cover letter can be the most important element in a job application. Ensuring your profile stands out to recruiters is crucial to your professional success.
  • A well-tailored cover letter should provide relevant information clearly and concisely. Focus on detailing your skills and why you are the right person for that specific role.
  • The included Research Scientist cover letter template provides an easy starting point to craft your own cover letters. Adapt and personalize it to fit your profile.

A well-written cover letter is key to quickly getting the attention of prospective employers. Among countless job seekers, resumes, and application letters, yours need to stand out on first impression if you want to ensure your job search   translates to a new role .

In this post, you will discover:

  • Reasons why a well-crafted cover letter is key to professional success, from entry-level roles to senior positions
  • Cover letter do’s and dont’s
  • A Research Scientist sample cover letter you can easily adapt and personalize

A well-tailored   cover letter : The key to   job application   success

Ensuring you know how to write a cover letter that is clear, informative, and tailored to the role you are applying to will benefit you in many ways. Well-crafted cover letters have many benefits, which include:

  • Showcasing relevance:   Tailoring your cover letter allows you to emphasize the most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements that align with the specific job requirements. This immediately captures the attention of the   talent acquisition   team, recruiters, or human resources reps.
  • Demonstrating research:   A good cover letter conveys your understanding of the organization's needs and illustrates how you can contribute to its success, signaling to potential employers that you've done your homework.
  • Telling your story:   Each job application is unique, and a tailored cover letter enables you to craft a personalized narrative. It lets you connect your professional journey with the role's specific challenges and opportunities, making your application more compelling.
  • Highlighting cultural fit:   Your cover letter allows you to address the company's values, mission, and culture. By aligning your experiences and values with those of the organization, you demonstrate a cultural fit and convey your enthusiasm for being part of the team.
  • Addressing specific requirements:   Job postings often include   specific skills or qualifications   the employer is seeking. Tailoring your cover letter enables you to address these requirements directly, showcasing how you possess the desired attributes and can meet the company's expectations.

Cover letter tips

A great cover letter should reflect your professional profile and personality. However, no matter what your cover letter's content is, the tips below will help ensure the message you want to convey is clear and easily accessible to hiring managers.

  • Keep it concise:   Aim for a cover letter length of 250-400 words. Be succinct in presenting your qualifications and experiences.
  • Use a clean layout:   Opt for a professional and clean cover letter format with a standard font (e.g., Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman) and a font size of 10-12 points.
  • Include   contact information :   Provide your contact information at the top of the cover letter, including your name, phone number, and professional email address.
  • Use   headers   and sections:   Organize your cover letter into clear sections with headers such as Introduction, Work Experience, and Achievements for easy readability.
  • Maintain a professional tone:   Keep the tone of your cover letter professional and upbeat. Avoid overly casual language, and focus on showcasing your skills and experiences.
  • Use keywords:   Incorporate relevant keywords from the Agile Project Manager   job description   and company website into your cover letter. This can help your application pass through   applicant tracking systems (ATS)   used by many employers.
  • Highlight achievements with bullet points:   Use bullet points to list specific accomplishments or notable projects. This makes it easier for the reader to grasp your accomplishments quickly.
  • Use quantifiable data:   Whenever possible, include quantifiable data to demonstrate the impact of your achievements. Numbers provide concrete evidence of your contributions.
  • Match company tone:   Adapt your writing style to match the tone of the company and industry. Research the company's culture to strike the right balance between professionalism and personality.
  • Showcase company knowledge:   Demonstrate your understanding of the company by referencing its values, mission, or recent achievements. Explain why you're excited about the opportunity to work for this specific organization.
  • Address employment gaps (if applicable):   If you have employment gaps, briefly address them in a positive light, focusing on any skills or experiences gained during those periods.
  • Proofread   thoroughly:   Eliminate typos and grammatical errors by proofreading your cover letter multiple times. Consider using tools like Grammarly to catch any overlooked mistakes and ensure your English (or any language you use) is correct.
  • Include a   call to action :   Conclude your cover letter with a call to action, expressing your enthusiasm for the opportunity and indicating your readiness for an interview.
  • Follow submission instructions:   If there are specific instructions for submitting the cover letter, such as naming conventions or document formats, ensure that you adhere to them.
  • Save as a PDF:   Save your cover letter as a PDF before submitting it. This ensures that the formatting remains consistent across different devices and software.

While understanding the correct steps to write a cover letter is crucial to your professional success, knowing what mistakes to avoid is equally important. The best cover letter can easily be made useless by a tiny blunder. Avoid making the mistakes listed below; you will be halfway to your new job.

  • Don't use a generic greeting:   Avoid generic salutations like "To whom it may concern," “Dear sir or madam, “ or “Dear hiring manager.“ Whenever possible, address the cover letter to a specific person.
  • Don't repeat your resume:   An effective cover letter should complement your resume, not duplicate it. Focus on specific experiences and achievements that showcase your qualifications for the role.
  • Don't exaggerate or lie:   Be truthful in your cover letter. Exaggerating your qualifications or providing false information can harm your chances and damage your professional reputation.
  • Don't use unprofessional email addresses:   Ensure that the email address you use in your contact information is professional. Avoid using nicknames or unprofessional terms.
  • Don't include irrelevant information:   Keep your cover letter focused on the job. Avoid including unrelated personal details or experiences that do not contribute to your suitability for the role.
  • Don't use jargon unnecessarily:   While demonstrating your knowledge is essential, avoid unnecessary jargon that may confuse the reader. Use clear and straightforward language.
  • Don't sound overly eager:   Expressing enthusiasm is positive but can easily feel unauthentic if overdone.

Remember, the goal of a practical cover letter is to present your qualifications in a clear, organized, and compelling manner while adhering to professional standards.

How to structure your Research Scientist   cover letter

Express your genuine interest in the Research Scientist position at [Research Institution or Company Name] in the opening paragraph. Communicate your passion for scientific discovery, data analysis, and your eagerness to contribute to a team dedicated to advancing knowledge and making significant contributions to your field. If applicable, mention any referrals that have influenced your decision to apply for this specific role.

About your current role

Highlight your achievements and effective research strategies that have positively impacted the success of your current team. Emphasize your role in designing and conducting experiments, analyzing complex datasets, and contributing to high-impact research projects. Demonstrate your proficiency in research methodologies, advanced data analysis techniques, and your ability to lead and collaborate with multidisciplinary teams.

Use this section to outline your current responsibilities and ongoing projects, emphasizing how they align with the requirements and objectives of the Research Scientist role.

About your experience

Detail your extensive hands-on experience in research scientist roles, showcasing your ability to conceptualize and lead research projects, publish in reputable journals, and contribute to the advancement of your field. Clearly communicate that your research skills and readiness for the role are well-established. This section is also an opportunity to highlight any relevant publications, presentations, or additional skills you've acquired throughout your research career.

Notable achievements

Highlight notable accomplishments that showcase your effectiveness as a Research Scientist. Whether you played a key role in a groundbreaking research project, developed novel research methodologies, or contributed to significant advancements in your field, use this section to concisely mention your achievements, how they were measured, and their impact on the overall success of the research projects you've been involved in.

Why you want to work there

Express your interest in the institution or company by highlighting specific aspects of its research focus, mission, and values related to your field of expertise that resonate with you. Convey how these align seamlessly with your professional goals and how you envision contributing to the organization's success through your expertise as a research scientist. Be concise but articulate about your motivations.

Specific projects or initiatives that motivated you to apply

Demonstrate your understanding of the organization by referencing specific research-related projects or initiatives that have captured your interest. Draw connections between these initiatives and your skills and experiences, emphasizing how your contributions align with the institution or company's goals for advancing scientific knowledge. This shows your genuine interest and proactive approach to aligning with the organization's mission.

In the closing paragraph, reiterate your enthusiasm to contribute to the organization's success as a Research Scientist. Express your eagerness to discuss how your skills align with the organization's research objectives and invite the reader to reach out with any questions they may have. Sign off with a professional salutation.

Research Scientist   cover letter template

Dear [Hiring Manager’s name],

I am writing to express my interest in the Research Scientist position at [Institution or Company Name], as advertised. With a strong background in [Your Field of Expertise] and a proven track record of conducting impactful research, I am eager to contribute my skills and expertise to your esteemed research team.

About my current role

In my current position as a Research Scientist at [Current Institution or Company], I have:

  • Led and conducted independent and collaborative research projects in [Your Field of Expertise].
  • Published research findings in reputable journals and presented at national and international conferences.
  • Mentored and collaborated with junior researchers, fostering a collaborative and innovative research environment.

About my Research Scientist experience

My experience extends to:

  • Designing and executing experiments, ensuring the integrity and validity of research methodologies.
  • Utilizing advanced research techniques and methodologies, such as [specific techniques or tools relevant to your field].
  • Securing research funding through successful grant applications and contributing to proposal writing.

Some of my notable achievements include:

  • Leading a research project that resulted in [specific research outcome, e.g., a new discovery, a novel methodology, etc.].
  • Establishing collaborations with [specific institutions or researchers], enhancing the reach and impact of research projects.
  • Contributing to the development of [specific technology or product] based on research findings.

Why I want to work for [Institution or Company]

I am particularly drawn to [Institution or Company Name] due to its [mention aspects unique to the institution or company such as commitment to cutting-edge research, renowned researchers on the team, access to state-of-the-art facilities, growth,...]. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to [Institution or Company Name]'s reputation for excellence in [Your Field of Expertise] and to collaborate with other leading researchers in the field.

Specific research projects or initiatives of [Institution or Company] that motivated me to apply

In researching [Institution or Company Name], I was impressed by your recent projects in [specific research focus or area]. I believe my expertise in [Your Field of Expertise] aligns seamlessly with your organizational objectives. My commitment to rigorous and impactful research and my dedication to advancing knowledge in the field would make me a valuable addition to your research team.

Thank you for considering my application. I am eager to further discuss how my skills and experiences align with the Research Scientist role at [Institution or Company Name]. I look forward to contributing to your team's success.

[Your Full Name]

Get your career rolling with Deel

Your job application is your chance to tell your professional story, and a well-tailored cover letter is your narrative's opening chapter. Remember that personalization is key. Make each word count, emphasizing how your background uniquely positions you as the ideal candidate, and get your dream job. 

Looking for even more inspiration?   Discover how to write a stellar cover letter in 5 steps .

Discover more tips and tools to help boost your career further and climb the steps to your dream job on   the get-hired content hub .

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Science Cover Letter Samples & Examples That Worked in 2024

Martin Poduška — Editor in Chief / Resume Writer

Are you ready to embark on an exciting journey to optimize your science career? Look no further, because this guide will equip you with the essential tools to create a remarkable science cover letter that's sure to captivate employers.

Earning a position in your scientific discipline requires an optimized cover letter that showcases your most relevant professional strengths .

From showcasing your expertise in molecular magic to highlighting your stellar research accomplishments, we'll explore the key elements that will launch your cover letter to new heights.

Research Intern Cover Letter Example

Continue reading to learn more about:

  • Formatting your science cover letter header and headline
  • Making your science cover letter personalized to specific employers
  • Writing an effective introduction for your science cover letter
  • Highlighting your professional strengths as a scientist
  • Concluding your science cover letter with a well-written closing statement
  • Finding useful job search resources for scientists

1. Format your science cover letter header and headline properly

The beginning of any great science cover letter starts with an excellently formatted header and headline.

A cover letter header always comes first, placed at the top of the page. This header should contain key pieces of information about both you and the employer, such as:

  • Your name and professional title
  • Your professional contact information
  • The name of the employer and/or company
  • The department of the company you are applying to (when applicable)
  • The address of the company

Here is an example of a well-formatted science cover letter header

John Doe , Biology Scientist (123) 456-7890 | [email protected] | linkedin.com/in/john-doe

To: General Labs & Development, Inc. Biology Science Department 1234 Street Address Washington, D.C. 2001

Following your header is a cover letter headline . Think of this as a title to your cover letter that highlights key points and helps to captivate the employer’s attention .

Your headline should be one sentence or line of text and include compelling details that are highly relevant to both the position you are applying to and the content of your cover letter.

Here is an example of a well-written science cover letter headline

My 3-Step Approach to Conducting Scientific Research & How This Approach Can Benefit Your Lab

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2. make your science cover letter personalized to specific employers.

Writing cover letters is a fairly commonplace practice, with most employers expecting to receive a cover letter when job applications are submitted for open positions.

What many applicants don’t realize, however, is that a core requirement of a successful cover letter is personalization . Personalization refers to a process of tailoring a cover letter to be highly specific to each individual employer, addressing their specific wants and needs.

To personalize a cover letter, it is crucial to research the employer thoroughly ahead of time to find out essential details, such as the company’s values and goals.

Additionally, you should always include a personalized greeting on your cover letter that addresses a specific person by name, such as the company CEO or a hiring manager.

Here are 3 examples of personalized science cover letter greetings

Dear Lab Supervisor Jack Green,

  • Dear Mr. Jack Green,
  • Dear Hiring Manager Joe Johnson,

3. Write an effective introduction for your science cover letter

The next necessity for your science cover letter is an effective and compelling introduction .

Introductory paragraphs should be concise, typically between two to three sentences in total. In this introduction, you want to provide the employer with a clear explanation of why you are a qualified candidate that should be considered for the job.

Here is an example of an effective science cover letter introduction

I am a recent graduate of Columbia University with a Master of Science in Clinical Research Methods. In my time as a student at Columbia, I worked for 3 years as a lab assistant and 1 year as a lab teaching assistant. My experience in the university labs has given me the technical prowess and interpersonal competence to effectively fulfill the role of assistant lab supervisor at your company.

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4. Highlight your professional strengths as a scientist

In a resume, you spend a lot of your writing space delving into the specifics of your educational and work experience. Comparatively, in a cover letter, you should spend more time explaining your top achievements and relevant skills , highlighting these qualifications as your professional strengths.

As you describe your key skills and achievements, make sure to include details that are highly relevant to the position and include contextual information. Your primary goal is to show the employer the real-life value you bring to the table that gives you an edge over other applicants.

Here are 6 skills to describe in a science cover letter

  • Examining and analyzing lab samples
  • Documenting and writing reports on lab results
  • Developing hypotheses that can be tested
  • Communicating and collaborating with other scientists
  • Specific scientific specializations (biology, botany, etc.)
  • Deep knowledge of utilizing scientific equipment

Here are a few examples of how to describe achievements in a science cover letter

  • As a Lab Scientist at [Former Employer], I worked as a lab assistant helping to supervise experiments carried out by undergraduate students. In this role, I play a key role as a student mentor, helping to implement safer laboratory practices that resulted in a 15% decrease in dangerous lab incidents. Additionally, I led a research experiment that resulted in the development of a new scientific patent for the university.  
  • I take pride in spearheading a groundbreaking research project that resulted in the discovery of a new cancer biomarker. This achievement not only expanded our understanding of cancer diagnostics but also holds great potential for personalized treatments. Leading a team of talented scientists, I successfully designed and executed experiments, collected and analyzed data, and collaborated with renowned oncologists to validate our findings. Our breakthrough publication in a prestigious scientific journal garnered significant recognition within the scientific community and has the potential to make a significant impact in the field of oncology.  
  • During my tenure as a research scientist, I developed and optimized a novel laboratory technique that increased the efficiency of gene editing by 60%. By implementing streamlined protocols and leveraging cutting-edge CRISPR technology, I successfully edited over 500 target genes across multiple cell lines. This breakthrough not only saved valuable research time but also positioned our team as pioneers in the field of gene editing. Additionally, I presented our findings at two international conferences, reaching an audience of over 500 scientists, and received the 'Innovation in Research' award from my institution in recognition of this achievement.

5. Conclude your science cover letter with a well-written closing statement

Anytime you write a science cover letter, you should always end with a strong conclusion that reiterates your excitement for the position and encourages the employer to get in touch with you.

In your conclusion, make sure to include:

  • An enthusiastic sentence saying you are looking forward to hearing from them
  • Key information on how to best get in contact with you, as well as the best days and times for contacting you are
  • A formal sign-off

Here is an example of a strong conclusion from a science cover letter

As your company is one of the top scientific research centers in D.C., it brings me great excitement and gratitude to be considered for this position. I look forward to speaking with you more about this opportunity and am available to meet on Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To best reach me, please call me at (123) 456-7890.

With Sincerity,

[Applicant Name]

If you have ever wondered how a cover letter differs from a resume, this article will tell you everything about the key differences between the two .

cover letter conclusion tips

6. Useful job search resources for scientists

As a scientist looking to navigate the job market, a variety of resources specifically tailored to your field can offer great advantages. Let's explore some of these key resources:

  • Job-search websites for scientists: Websites like Nature Jobs , Science Careers , and New Scientist Jobs are platforms curated for science jobs across all disciplines. These sites offer job listings, career advice articles, and employer information.
  • Professional networks: Join professional organizations or associations in your field. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) or the National Postdoctoral Association , for example, offer networking opportunities and job boards.
  • LinkedIn: Around 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool to find eligible candidates. Do not underestimate the power of a strong and well-maintained LinkedIn profile . Join relevant groups, follow industry leaders, and engage in professional discussions.
  • Company websites: Directly check the career pages of companies you are interested in. Most companies post job vacancies and internships on their websites.
  • Mentors: Tap into your existing network of professors, colleagues, alumni. Their advice and contacts in the industry can be extremely useful.
  • Online skill enhancement: Websites like Coursera or Khan Academy offer many courses taught by industry experts that can advance your skills and knowledge, making your application more attractive to employers.
  • Scientific journals: Subscriptions to journals such as Science and Nature allow you to stay tuned with the latest advancements in your field, making you a better-rounded candidate.

Remember, every successful job search starts with a clear strategy and the right mix of resources at your disposal. Happy hunting!

Science Cover Letter FAQ

Yes, for a science cover letter, highlight any experience you have with essential lab techniques or procedures, your familiarity with industry-standard scientific tools and software, important scientific projects you've undertaken, and key findings or results.

Absolutely. If you've been part of published research, this can notably enhance your credentials. Briefly mention your involvement and the impact of the research. If space allows, you can also provide a link to the publication.

Show genuine passion for the field you're applying in and try to showcase that you're on top of the latest developments in this area. Also, make sure that you demonstrate a deep understanding of the organization's work and how you can contribute to it.

Highlight your academic achievements, particularly those relevant to the job. Discuss your thesis or significant projects you've completed during your course. If you've done internships or relevant volunteer work, make sure to include those experiences as well.

Yes, it's essential to tailor your cover letter to each job and company. This shows the employer that you have a genuine interest in the role and that you've taken the time to understand their specific requirements.

Martin Poduška — Editor in Chief / Resume Writer

Martin Poduška

Martin is a resume expert and career advice writer at Kickresume. In his five years at Kickresume, he has written hundreds of in-depth, painstakingly researched resume advice articles and, as chief editor, he has also edited and revised every single article on this website. Tens of thousands of job seekers read Martin’s resume advice every month. He holds a degree in English from the University of St Andrews and a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Amsterdam .


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How to write a successful cover letter for science jobs

How to write a successful cover letter for science jobs

Bec Johnston

Crafting a great science cover letter is an essential part of the job application process. Even if you’re right for the role and have a polished CV, you still need to prove why you’re the best person for the job.

Let’s face it: most of us dread the prospect of having to write a cover letter. Promoting ourselves can often feel uncomfortable, and writing in a persuasive, compelling style is already difficult enough.

Fortunately, writing a top-notch cover letter doesn’t require the prose abilities of Austen or Hemingway. By following a tried-and-tested formula and getting straight to the heart of what the hiring manager is looking for, anyone — regardless of writing ability — can produce an effective cover letter that really showcases your talents. 

Indeed, writing a cover letter can be a real confidence-boosting exercise and even add to your professional skill set.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through each stage of writing a cover letter as a scientist and provide some tips and tricks on how to stand out from the crowd.

How to Write a Science Cover Letter


Research the hiring company

To kick off the cover letter process, you should spend an hour or two of your time acquainting yourself with the role and the company.

By aiming to better understand the business, the role, and how you’d fit into the bigger picture as an employee, you’ll be able to keep your cover letter direct and to the point from the very first word.

After all, you can never do too much research. If you’re not equipped with even the most basic knowledge of the company, how can you properly demonstrate that you’re right for the role?

Your research will also help you confirm whether or not you want to work for the company. Do the company’s mission and values align with your own? If not, then you may want to consider another role.

What to look out for

Aim to familiarise yourself with info on the following:

  • What the company does
  • The company’s services and/or products
  • The company’s people and culture
  • Any relevant information on the target market (including competitors)
  • The tone of voice employed by the company

Where to look

You can use social media channels such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor employee reviews, and science publications. You should also browse through the company’s website, which will (or at least  should ) provide information on what they do (in their  own words) and the team.

The information you gather will help you tailor your cover letter according to what the company and hiring manager are looking for in the job description.

Analyse the job description

The job description is pivotal to the cover letter. While each job description differs in detail and scope from the next, they all have the same purpose: to outline the type of person that the employer requires.

Job descriptions usually start by offering an overview of the company and role, before getting into the nitty-gritty of which skills and experience are required, as well as what the role entails. Often, these are in the form of bullet points, which can help you separate and identify the exact points that your cover letter needs to cover.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cover  every bullet point, but you should definitely try to cover the most important ones.

To recap:   Always have one eye on the job description when writing your cover letter. Let the former act as your guide; follow it closely and you’ll be better placed to prove your suitability to the hiring manager.


How long should a cover letter be?

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer. As a benchmark,  one sheet of A4 paper  or  250 to 500 words will usually suffice, but the length of your cover letter will largely depend on two things:

  • The number of essential criteria listed in the job description, most of which you’ll need to show evidence of.
  • The examples you provide to meet these criteria (more on this shortly).

PRO TIP:  Always write a  new cover letter for each role you apply to. Every job (and therefore every job description) is different, so try not to reuse an old cover letter or rely on a one-size-fits-all template. If you do have a template, then at least ensure you tailor it to the exact role you are applying for on a case-by-case basis.

Now, let’s get into the actual writing.

How to start your cover letter

The start of a cover letter is arguably the most important section. Your intro will set the tone for the reader, so make sure you are forthright and direct, but also aim to demonstrate your uniqueness and suitability for the role as early as possible.

After all, each open position will likely attract dozens of applications — which is a lot of reading for those in charge of hiring (many of whom will be strapped for time and have other responsibilities to attend to).

How to choose the right greeting for your cover letter

If you know the name of the person you’re addressing (tip: this is often stated on the job advert), use a simple:

Dear [first name],

If you don’t have a name, it’s worth gauging the tone of the company you’re applying for by browsing through their website and social media pages. If the company uses formal or technical language, go for:

To whom it may concern,

If the company is less formal (as many startups tend to be), the following greetings will be appropriate:

Dear hiring manager,

OR (for a company with a particularly informal culture)

Make the reader know your intentions from the outset

Hiring managers are busy people. Given that there’s a good chance your application may be skimmed through, it’s crucial that you stand out. Once you’ve chosen a greeting, you’ll need a killer opening line.

If writing doesn’t come naturally, don’t worry — you’re not being judged on the merits of your prose. Instead, aim to outline your intentions in the opening line. For example:

Please accept this as my application for the position of [Job Title] with [Company Name].

Now you’ve set your stall, it’s time to briefly summarise:

  • What makes you right for the role
  • Why you want to work for the company

In one or two paragraphs, explain what attracted you to the job posting and include some relevant information about what the organisation does. This will demonstrate that your research on their company has gone beyond just the job title and job spec.

PRO TIP: Aim for paragraphs of between three and six lines. This will break up the text for the hiring manager and make it easier to read through. 

Think of your cover letter as an elevator pitch 

Much like a sales pitch, the cover letter represents your chance to sell yourself. But instead of trying to sell an idea or a product in a five-minute presentation, you’ll have a page of A4 to impress the hiring manager and showcase your suitability. As you start writing, aim to make every word, sentence, and paragraph count. Likewise, aim to remove anything that doesn’t add value.

What to include in the cover letter main body

Once you’ve crafted a snappy intro of one or two paragraphs, the bulk of the letter should see you systematically work through the job description and highlight any skills, experience, and the techniques that are relevant to the role.

Be explicit, as these are the details that will jump out to a busy recruiter or hiring manager who may be scanning your letter.

Here are some pointers on what to bear in mind or include when writing your cover letter.

Write in the company’s tone of voice 

If you’ve done your research on the employer, you’ll likely have picked up pointers on the type of language they use externally (if not internally, too). 

When writing and editing your cover letter, aim to mirror their tone of voice as closely as possible. Do they place emphasis on scientific jargon? Use scientific jargon. Do they have a conversational approach? Write to them in a conversational way (though again, not too informal). 

By mirroring cultural markers, you’ll subconsciously stand out to the hiring manager as someone who is likely to quickly assimilate.

Provide situational evidence of your competencies 

Given the technical demands of scientific roles, hiring managers want to see evidence of you applying your technical knowledge to real-world scenarios. You’ll, therefore need to demonstrate how your background, skills, experience, and attitude can enhance the business you are applying for. 

To do so, you should refer to one successful real-life example where you have saved your previous/current employer time and money or have streamlined processes to increase profitability. Using the ‘ STAR ’ technique will help give you a rounded example. STAR stands for:

Situation  — Briefly describe the background to the situation

Task  — Describe the task or challenge you were faced with

Action  — Describe what you did and why you did it

Result — Describe the outcome of your actions

Show your personality 

This key part of any cover letter is often neglected (particularly by scientists!). While skills, experience, and aptitude is crucial for any hire, so too is the personality and cultural fit of each candidate. 

Given that many scientific roles continue to be office- or lab-based, every hiring manager is looking for candidates who value teamwork and camaraderie. As such, you should include a paragraph that provides an insight into who you are outside of work. 

This doesn’t have to be a huge achievement; it can be as simple as the things you like to do in your downtime (e.g. activities with family and friends; hobbies, groups, charitable endeavours; engagement with the local community).

Demonstrate your adaptability and willingness to learn  

Innovation in STEM happens at a breakneck pace, so most employers are looking for candidates who are adaptable and up-to-date with the latest trends. Focusing on your transferable skills will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re self-aware and on a journey of professional development. It will also show that you can be a long-term asset to the business.

Include memorable numbers and statistics  

Much like how an infographic helps break up a blog, any relevant or valuable data will immediately stand out to the reader and pique their interest (especially as they’re likely to be scientific professionals themselves). Let’s be honest; “ I increased lab efficiency by 35% ” sounds more impressive than the vague “ I increased lab efficiency .”

Use keywords

Make sure to pepper your cover letter with relevant keywords that relate to the role or job, particularly any that are included in the job description. 

For a molecular biology role, for example, skills- or technique-related keywords may include things like  PCR  (polymerase chain reaction) ,  gel electrophoresis ,  ELISA  (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) , and  cell culture . 

For an analytical chemistry role, this could include  HPLC  (high-performance liquid chromatography) ,  GC  (gas chromatography) , and/or  MS  (mass spectrometry) . Of course, you should only include keywords that are relevant to the role and reflect your actual experience.

Be honest about your experience 

Like with your CV, you’ll eventually get caught out if you include half-truths in your cover letter. If you’re missing experience, there’s no need to apologise or try and overcompensate for it elsewhere. Simply act natural and let your actual experiences and values come to the fore. Besides, being honest will help you better recall what you wrote in any subsequent interview — and help you avoid any awkward umming and ahhing.

How to end a cover letter

If your reader has made it this far, you’ll want to leave them with a favourable final impression of your application. After all, there’s no use in nailing the introduction and main body if you rush the ending and/or sign off with a whimper.

Instead, you want to end with a bang.

First up, summarise your key strengths, skills, and experience. In one or two sentences, reiterate the most important points from your main body. Don’t simply lift words or phrases from earlier in the cover letter, though. Rephrase what you’ve already said and, if possible, try to inject something new into it.

In your closing statement, you want to exude professionalism and confidence but without being pushy. Round off your cover letter by thanking the reader for their time and attention, and offer your contact details so that you are easy to get in touch with should they wish to organise a further exploratory conversation with you.

Keep it short and sweet.

Finally, choose a professional and courteous salutation to wrap up your letter, such as, “ Yours sincerely ” (only if the recipient is addressed by their name), “ Kind regards ,” or “ Thank you for your consideration .” Avoid overly casual or informal phrases such as “ Yours ,” “ Cheers ,” or “ Take care .”


Before sending your cover letter...

Proofread your letter. 

Some scientific roles will require writing skills, so try to avoid any embarrassing typos (“ King regards ” crops up very frequently). A second pair of eyes always helps, so ask a close friend to give it a read. Free plugins such as Grammarly can also help you spot repeated words or grammatical errors, which can be a real timesaver (and lifesaver!) when writing.

Make sure it sells you as the best person for the job. 

While a good cover letter takes time, you’ll also feel proud when you’ve got it down to a tee. Put yourself in the shoes (or reading glasses) of the hiring manager: does the letter excite you? If not, you may need to add some more tweaks.

Writing an email subject line for a job application 

In many instances, the job advert will instruct you to apply via email. This requires creating a strong subject line to capture the hiring manager’s attention.

When crafting your subject line, don’t overthink it. Be succinct and direct. Unless explicitly instructed otherwise, include both the job title of the role you are applying for and the company. For example:

Application for the position of [Job Title] with [Company Name]

The above is short, simple, and to the point. In other words, it’s an effective way of telling the hiring manager exactly what to expect when they open the email.

How to follow up your job application

If you’ve not had an acknowledgment or feedback on your application within the suggested time on the advertisement (or a week if not stated), follow it up with an email. Demonstrate you are keen, interested, and motivated to successfully see your application through.

In your follow-up email, you should open with a polite and courteous salutation, keep it brief, and express in sentence or two why you are a good fit. Then, ask any questions related to the job at the end of the email. As before, close with a professional salutation.

Follow-up email template

Subject Line:  Molecular Scientist Position - [Your full name] Application

Dear [their first name].

I hope you are well. I recently submitted my application for the molecular scientist position and wondered if it would be possible to receive an update on your decision timeline.

I am very interested in working at [company name] and believe that my skill set — especially my extensive experience in [give example of relevant experience] at [current or former employer] — make me an ideal fit for the role.

Please let me know if you need any additional information from my end.

Thanks again for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

[Your full name]

With that said, good luck in your job hunting!

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how to write a scientific application letter

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Click here to directly go to the complete Research Scientist cover letter sample.

How do you write a cover letter for a scientist?

Writing a cover letter for a scientist can be time-consuming, as good scientists possess multiple qualities & skills that are hard to describe on a single paper.

In 2021, we encountered nearly 46,999 scientists working across the United States at an average annual salary of $94,940 . The statistics seem lucrative, but getting a scientist job in 2022 can be tricky since there is cut-throat competition in the job market.

However, a scientist cover letter can make your application stand apart from the crowd. You can leverage a cover letter during the recruitment process to boost your selection chances.

This definitive guide has some profound insights into a science cover letter.

Here you will get answers to these scientist cover letter questions:

  • What is a scientist cover letter?
  • What is the need for a scientist cover letter?
  • How to write a cover letter for a research position?

You can ease your cover letter-building process by referring to the online scientist cover letter examples or use Hiration’s Online Cover Letter Builder . This digital tool is backed by Artificial Intelligence technology that is effective enough to lighten your scientist cover letter building task.

What is a Scientist Cover Letter?

Scientific cover letters can showcase your research and decision-making abilities by analyzing data. You can also mention how you helped your previous companies grow better by your scientific decisions in your science cover letter.

The absence of a science cover letter will not affect your job application, but its presence will undoubtedly emphasize the effectiveness of your application. In addition, a scientist cover letter will include your skills, achievements, and other professional highlights absent in your resume.

Also Read: How to build a data science resume?

Why Would Scientists Need a Cover Letter?

Cover letters give a little more detailed information about a professional than a resume. Hence, an associate scientist cover letter can help you get ahead of the competitors who are without a cover letter.

Research Schientist Cover Letter Sample

You can refer to this research scientist cover letter example while drafting the cover letter for your targeted scientist position:

How to Draft a Scientist Cover Letter?

Writing a science cover letter is not easy, as you need to be professional and impressive enough to grab the hiring manager's undivided attention. Moreover, your skills, qualities, and achievements must align with the requirements showcased in the targeted job description.

You can try our predefined parameters to start the research scientist cover letter building process showcased below:

Research About The Company

The first task you must do is research the targeted company. You can spend an hour or two to know what the company does and its plans for the future. It will help you get the vision and mission of the company, and then you can see if they align with yours or not.

What should you look for?

You can try familiarizing yourself with the following information:

  • What is the company’s work?
  • What are its products and/or services?
  • What is it like working in that company?
  • How many people are working in that company?
  • Who are the competitors of that company?

Where should you look?

You can check out the company's official website first, as it will give you a deeper look into its vision, mission, products, services, and serving area. After that, you can check different online platforms for getting employee and client reviews about the company, including:

Analyze The Job Description

Next, you can analyze the job description properly before starting the scientist cover letter writing process. A job description will showcase the type of person or asset required by that company.

Job descriptions start with a paragraph elaborating on the fundamental duties in the offered role. Then it goes down, breaking all the responsibilities in bullet points.

You do not have to address every point while framing your science cover letter and resume. However, we recommend you cover most of those points to prove your worth in the recruitment process.

Note: Job description is the perfect place to pick keywords. You can select technical profile-centric keywords from the job description and use them while writing your scientist resume and cover letter to parse through the ATS screening round like a pro.

Also Read: How to build a data science cover letter?

Scientist Cover Letter Format

You will need a professional cover letter format or practical guidelines to frame a job-winning science cover letter for your targeted job.

We are listing some steps below that you can follow while writing your cover letter for scientist position in 2022:

  • Write your full name as the header of your scientist cover letter
  • Mention your contact information, including email, phone, social profiles, below the header
  • Showcase the profile title below your contact information
  • Add a header towards the left margin including the submission date, employer name, employer designation, company name, and address
  • Add a subject below the header, indicating your interest in your targeted profile. For example, ‘Suitability for Data Scientist’
  • Address your employer with a real name instead of 'sir/ma’am' or 'To Whom it May Concern'. For example, ‘Dear Ms. Swan’
  • Mention the profile you are applying for in the first line with your qualifications
  • Show your qualities in the first paragraph aligned with the job requirements
  • Write about your achievements in the second paragraph from your previous roles
  • Tell the recruiter why you are a good fit for this position in the third paragraph
  • Lastly, sign off with a thanking note

Scientist Cover Letter Header

You must enter all the essential details about you and the recruiter in this section.

Here is the list of details you can add to this section to make it professional:

  • Date of submission
  • Current job title
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Recruiter's name
  • Recruiter's Designation
  • Organization's name

Note- Always address the recruiter by name instead of sir/ma'am. It will make a better impact on your presentation.

Scientist Cover Letter Introduction

You can mention your work experience and your achievements in the first paragraph of your cover letter. It will hook the recruiter's attention and might increase your shortlisting chances.

Scientist Cover Letter Body

In the second paragraph, you can mention your skills and capabilities admired by previous employers. You can mention the value your presence added in your previous companies in this part.

Scientist Cover Letter Sign-Off

Last, you can mention the thing you liked in the applied company and the reason why should they hire you for the applied position. You can end your cover letter with a thanking note.

Key Takeaways

Building a science cover letter can take time and might puzzle you. However, these steps will help you craft a professional cover letter for science job in 2022:

  • Research about the company to know its vision, mission, products, and services
  • Analyze the job description to know the responsibilities associated with your targeted role
  • Choose a professional template for your scientist cover letter for a better impact
  • Use clear and crisp language while writing your science cover letter
  • Mention your qualities and capabilities that can address the job requirements
  • Show your achievements in the previous roles to prove your worth as a scientist
  • Make the recruiter believe that you are the best fit for the applied job by stating your achievements and work experience complementary to the job descriptions

You can follow these steps to build an impeccable cover letter for environmental scientists in 2022 without any hurdle. You can also check out Hiration’s AI-powered Online Cover Letter Builder to craft your cover letter. It comes with 24/7 chat support to offer you a smooth operating experience. Additionally, you can always use our expert career assistance at [email protected] .

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  • Published: 14 October 2022

How to make cover letters instructive

Nature Biomedical Engineering volume  6 ,  pages 1087–1088 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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Succinctly convey the study’s context, emphases, implications and limitations.

The title of this Editorial may be read as implying that cover letters to articles submitted to Nature Biomedical Engineering are neither useful nor informative. Indeed, most aren’t. We find that many cover letters for research articles express excitement about the work, restate the abstract of the manuscript, declare that the findings constitute a major advance and emphasize the importance of the main research topic. They also typically list authors, suitable reviewers and excluded experts, and any competing interests and other confidential information; yet most of this information is requested by the manuscript submission system or can be provided through it.

how to write a scientific application letter

Excitement, prominent advances and topical importance are, perhaps expectedly, more commonly relayed by authors than perceived or judged by editors (especially by those with a mindset for selectivity). Naturally, one’s own work is a labour of effort and passion; yet it is difficult to transmit enthusiasm to an editor accustomed to reading, often cursorily, many similarly worded cover letters each week. Novel, promising and transformative work, and platform technology with untapped potential are examples of swiftly skipped words in the angular gyrus of an editor’s brain as they skim through a cover letter to rapidly find the most useful bits of information.

There’s more than love for one’s work shaping the style of cover letters. Competition for publishing in a journal that peers perceive to be of high reputation drives many authors to overemphasize the findings of their work and the broader relevance of the subject area 1 . And misgivings about the work being misjudged by an editor insufficiently knowledgeable about the topic may drive some authors to avoid conveying seemingly complex context or background information, and to magnify the implications of their results.

It is therefore unsurprising that some editors disregard cover letters when assessing the suitability of a manuscript for their journal, or read the manuscript before opening the cover-letter file so as to appreciate and assess the work in the form meant to be communicated. Also, the widely held belief that editors of Nature-branded journals select manuscripts largely on the basis of the cover letter is a myth; manuscripts are examined 2 . Are cover letters for first submissions therefore a wasted effort? Are they an unhelpful relic of the pre-internet era? Do they bias manuscript selection? Many arguments can be made for and against these questions. Instead, discussing how cover letters accompanying first submissions of original research articles can be made more instructive would be more fruitful. That’s our aim for the remainder of this piece.

First, and foremost, know your audience. Manuscripts are written for the many; cover letters should be written for an audience of one (or for a team of very few). When writing a manuscript, knowing your intended audience primordially means appropriately crafting the context of the scientific story 3 . Similarly, consideration of the current scientific experience of the manuscript’s prospective handling editor and of their editorial colleagues — should this information be known or available — can inform how the cover letter is framed. Has the journal published related work? Does it have a reputation for quality in the subject area or for publishing similar types of scientific advances? Are the editors likely to be familiar with current challenges and opportunities in the field, and knowledgeable about its standards of rigour and reporting? Are the editors aware of any relevant controversies?

Second, help the editors understand and assess the main contributions of your work. At Nature Biomedical Engineering , for research manuscripts that fit the journal’s scope we assess the degree of advance, broad implications and breadth and depth of the work. To perform this task well, we need to place the manuscript in its appropriate context 4 . We find that a cover letter is particularly informative when it helps us to identify the relevant type of advances in the study. Do the authors feel that the main contribution of the work involves the development of new technology to widen its biomedical applicability? Or does the value of the work mostly lie on the performance and translatability of a slightly improved workflow? Are any of the methods or their implementation new? Was the study’s aim to minimize the usability and cost of a device, or to expand its functionality? Is the mechanism of action underlying the discovered phenomena a notable contribution? And are the mechanistic insights being leveraged to improve the understanding of the disease or the intervention? We also appreciate it when cover letters provide suitable context for the work: for instance, which recently published studies are most relevant, and why? Is the work merely using state-of-the-art technology or methodology, or building on it? Has the same problem been addressed by other approaches? Has the same hypothesis been investigated from different angles? What types of validation support the robustness of the findings?

Third, describe the realistic implications of the work. The temptation is to dream big; yet, the credibility of the inferences improve when they are suitably constrained. Hence, state the main challenges that lie in the way. Similarly, describe the study’s limitations and whether they arise from the assumptions made, or from the methods, models or data acquired or used.

The style and format of research manuscripts are constrained for good reasons: they make it easier to find and interpret the information. The freedom of free-form writing can make cover letters more challenging to write well. We can offer a few more pieces of advice: constrain their length, structure and detail 5 , and explain your work and its context accessibly 6 . And, as if writing for a semi-supervised learning agent (pictured), use natural language.

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how to write a scientific application letter

How to write a science cover letter

A great science cover letter is often one of the most important parts of a job application. you may have a brilliant cv, but submitting a poor cover letter with your application can shatter your chances of securing your dream science role., this is sometimes the only opportunity you will be given to illustrate to an employer exactly why your cv is worth a read and why you are the person they are looking for..

Employer reading a cover letter

Take a look at our handy tips on how to write a science cover letter successfully:

Research the company and the industry

Taking the time to look into the company, as well as the specific scientific, clinical or technical industry, you are applying for will demonstrate to the recruiter that you are serious about the role at hand. You could use social media sites such as LinkedIn, publications or simply the company’s website to gather information that will make you appear informed. Once you have done this, you can tailor your cover letter to show that your skills and your character match what the employer is looking for.

During your research, it is a good idea to focus on:

  • The organisation’s mission and values. Do they fit with your own?
  • The organisation’s target market. What do you know about the target market? Do you fit within it?
  • The history of the organisation. Any notable events that you can relate to?
  • Relevant news. Is anything big happening in the industry that is affecting the organisation?

Analyse the job description 

Make precise reference to the key competencies and experience necessary for the role. Personalise the cover letter by illustrating how you fit the criteria with past achievements and accomplishments. This will assure the reader that you are a great match for what they are looking for, as well as provide them with a little insight into what they can expect from you.

If you want to work in pharmaceuticals, highlight your experience with GMP. If you want to work in medical devices, demonstrate your knowledge of working within a production environment.

Keep it to the point

Your cover letter should not fill more than one A4 page – you should aim for around half to three quarters of the page being covered. Writing too much could bore the recruiter and encourage them to stop reading. Include the most important points only, the rest can be found in your CV. Read our CV writing tips here .

Structure your science cover letter correctly

A science cover letter should flow well and be structured to ensure that the employer gets the most vital information in a professional, efficient way. We suggest this structure:

Your address

Include your home address in the top right hand corner of the letter, as well as your mobile number, email address and LinkedIn profile (find out how to create the perfect LinkedIn profile here ). Make it clear how the employer can contact you.

Address the reader

‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss…’ – always address the letter to the decision maker of the role, and never to the general recruitment department. If you are unsure who this might be, you can search LinkedIn or ask the HR department for guidance.

Paragraph 1

Start the cover letter by clearly stating your intention to apply for the job, including any reference numbers the job has. In this paragraph you should tell the employer why you are applying for this specific role and where you found out about the position (whether that be on the company’s website, on social media or through a friend). It is a good idea to include a sentence designed to grab the attention of the reader, by highlighting a key achievement or core strength that demonstrates your suitability for the role.

Paragraph 2

Outline your qualifications and experience and then match these to the requirements of the job you are applying for (these will be found in the job description). Go on to demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm to help the company achieve their goals within the industry. Use this paragraph as your chance to impress the employer and motivate them to take a look at your CV by drawing their attention to your past successes but leaving them wanting to find out more.

Paragraph 3

This paragraph is where the research you conducted about the company and the industry before writing the cover letter will come in handy. Go into detail about why you would like to work for this company specifically and how the skills and experience you possess will add to their success. You should also refer to the organisation’s values and core culture, stating why you will fit in.

Paragraph 4

It is a good idea to end with a positive statement in this paragraph and provide a call to action since you are hoping to secure an interview. Go on to direct the reader to your enclosed/attached CV and inform them of your availability for interview. Finally, thank the reader for their time and consideration, and welcome them to get in touch to discuss the job in more detail.

You should finish the letter with ‘Yours Sincerely’ if you have addressed it to a named contact, or ‘Yours Faithfully’ if you have addressed it simply as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, and sign your name.

Check, check and check again

Submitting a cover letter that is littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will give a negative first impression to the reader, and may even encourage them to reject your application. Use a spell checker, get a trusted friend to proofread it for you, or even ask your CK consultant to take a look. Meet our team here .

You may also like to read:

The 30 second CV test

The top 10 CV buzzwords

Being selective with your CV

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Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine: How to Write a Cover Letter?

Zahra bahadoran.

1 Nutrition and Endocrine Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Parvin Mirmiran

Khosrow kashfi.

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

Asghar Ghasemi

3 Endocrine Physiology Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

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.

The Cambridge dictionary defines a cover letter as “a letter that contains information about the thing it is sent with”. The cover letter is commonly known as a motivation letter submitted along with the curriculum vitae (CV) or a job application for employment ( 1 ) or academic position ( 2 ), and it is not clear why and how it was introduced into the scientific field ( 3 ). In scientific writing and publishing, a cover/covering letter is a letter to the editor’s target journal ( 4 ).

Providing a cover letter alongside the submission process is now required by most scientific journals. In fact, some high-quality and prestigious journals pay specific attention to the cover letter ( 3 ). Amongst the different steps of the publication process, the cover letter is the last step and is often overlooked ( 5 ). One of the most common complaints voiced by editors regarding submitted manuscripts is that the authors neglect to write a well-written cover letter, including a statement justifying the importance of their work ( 6 ). Missing this opportunity may have unintentional consequences, rejection without further consideration instead of being sent for external peer-review ( 5 , 6 ). Contrary to this view, some believe that the cover letter’s content overlaps with the manuscript’s abstract and gives mostly redundant information already found within the online submission system ( 3 ). The cover letter may also be a “misleading commercial advertisement” where it would not represent the content of the manuscript ( 3 ).

Although many editors may not read or seriously consider the cover letters of the submitted manuscripts ( 3 , 4 ), neglecting the importance of the cover letter may be a risk for the authors. Therefore, spending an adequate amount of time to write a coherent and persuasive cover letter is worth it. Following our previous publication on choosing a journal in a new series entitled Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine ( 7 ), here, we provided a practical guide to draft a well-written, professional, and concise cover letter needed to be accompanied by an original scientific paper, either with the initial submission or subsequently at revision/resubmitting stage. Since there are subtle differences in writing a cover letter for an original research paper versus a review article or an opinion, some points for drafting a cover letter for such papers are also discussed.

2. The Function of the Cover Letter

A cover letter is “a brief business letter”, which introduces the submitted manuscript to a prospective editor (s) ( 8 ). There are essentially two types of letters; the first is the one that is initially submitted with the manuscript (cover letter), and the second is when a revision is being submitted (revised letter). The first letter introduces the work at the initial manuscript submission ( 9 ), while the second one is needed following an invitation to revise and resubmit the manuscript. Here, the authors respond to the suggestions/criticisms of the reviewers ( 10 ). In this paper, “cover letter” and “second letter” refer to the first/submit letter and the revised letter, respectively.

A well-written cover letter is an effective tool for authors to sell their work to the journal editor and make a “good first impression”. A cover letter is a summary that highlights the main points, emphasizes the novelty, and communicates the potential implications of the submitted work ( 3 ). A cover letter allows the authors to persuade the editors regarding the novelty/originality and significance of the research in a less formal manner than in the manuscript itself ( 6 ). A well-written and informative cover letter helps the journal’s editor to be informed about the work and its significance. Regardless of the novelty and significance of the submitted manuscript, editors may miss those points without providing insights in a cover letter ( 5 ).

3. The Content of a Cover Letter

3.1. first cover letter (submit letter).

One point of view is that the cover letter’s content should be covered in the manuscript’s abstract ( 3 ). A typical cover letter includes the name of editor (s) and the journal, date of submission, the characteristics of the manuscript (i.e., title, type of the manuscript, e.g., review, original, case report), the importance of the work and its relevance to the readership of the journal, verification of the originality of the work, the authors’ confirmation that the manuscript is currently submitted only to this journal, declarations and ethical statements, suggested potential reviewers, and contact information of the corresponding author of the submitted work ( 5 , 6 ). Other manuscript characteristics, including the length and number of tables and figures, can also be indicated. If the manuscript belongs to a special issue or is being submitted upon an official invitation from the journal’s editorial office, it should also be addressed. The main contents of the first cover letter are described in Table 1 .

The most critical element of a cover letter is a “statement of novelty/significance/implication.” The authors are advised to carefully write a brief and concise description of their work’s impact toward communicating its significance ( 6 ). The authors are strongly advised not to copy the abstract into the cover letter and instead explain in their own words the significance of the work and the reason for submitting it to the journal ( 11 ). If this information is lacking, the editors may rely on the reviewers who may not appreciate the significance of the work and just focus on the technical issues rather than the scientific value of the work ( 5 ). Providing a clear and robust statement of novelty and significance would be more critical for editors and potential reviewers with diverse and interdisciplinary backgrounds ( 6 ).

The statements are expected to answer the following questions: (1) why is the work important? (e.g., emphasizing a new measurement, a new diagnostic method or criterion, a newly discovered biological process); and (2) how does the work advance current knowledge in the field? The best approach to answer this question is by describing the current state of knowledge in the field and clarifying how the work provides an added value by answering a previously unanswered question, finding the solution to a problem, or improving existing methods ( 5 ). Checking the recently published papers on similar topics in the journal provides new insights for the authors to clarify in the cover letter as to how the manuscript follows the publication trends of the journal and will add something new that would be relevant to the trend ( 12 ).

The cover letter is also expected to emphasize why the manuscript will attract the journal’s readers ( 5 ). The authors also need to consider the journal’s Aims and Scope to underscore how the manuscript would fit within the journal’s scope and attract potential readers ( 13 ). Instead of stating simply that the manuscript is “of interest to the field” or “novel,” the authors should address specific aspects of the journal’s Aims and Scope statement, e.g., “We believe that this manuscript is appropriate for publication by [journal name] since it… [reference to the journal’s aims and scope] ( 11 ).

For a review, opinion, or a trends paper, emphasizing the timeline and novelty is needed, as stated by Sacristán, the editor of trends in molecular medicine: “The synthesis and conceptual advance should be particularly stated in terms of what is new and has been trending in the field for the last one to five years”. She also recommends that the authors need to provide a future perspective beyond the main take-home message of the manuscript for a trends paper and take a strong and novel stance on a hypothesis or idea for a cover letter of an opinion manuscript ( 14 ).

The cover letter must contain some predefined statements, including the “author agreement” statement ( 13 ). An “author agreement” is a statement to confirm that “all authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript being submitted” ( 8 ). Furthermore, “the authors warrant that the manuscript is their original work, has not received prior publication and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere” ( 8 ). Some journals may request the corresponding author to confirm that he/she will take responsibility for informing co-authors of editorial decisions, reviews received, and any changes or revisions made; additionally, the editor (s) should be informed about any closely related manuscript (s) simultaneously submitted for consideration to the same or another journal ( 15 ). The authors also should declare if any part of the submitted work has been previously published elsewhere, even as an abstract ( 16 ); e.g., “there is some overlap in the content of the introduction section, which we have noted in the text”.

Depending on the journal’s policy, other statements, including “conflict of interest statement”, “funding source declarations”, and “permission note”, may also be required to be included in the cover letter ( 8 , 11 ). As indicated by Elsevier, a conflict of interest statement, known as a disclosure statement, is a declaration from the author that “there is no financial/personal interest or belief that could affect their objectivity”. The publisher emphasizes that the authors should declare and state the potential conflict’s source and nature in cases where a conflict of interest exists. A funding source declaration is defined by the publisher as “a declaration of any funding or research grants (and their sources) received in the course of study, research or assembly of the manuscript”. Elsevier also defines the permission note as a statement that declares that “permission has been received to use any material in the manuscript such as a figure, which is not original content” ( 8 , 17 ). Other statements like “Statement of English native editing” may also be added.

Furthermore, informing the editor (s) regarding any information that will support the submission (e.g., original or confirmatory data, supplementary materials, relevance, topicality) can be helpful ( 8 ). Other operational information, typically provided within checkboxes of the journal’s submission system, is not required to be included in the cover letter ( 5 ).

3.2. Second Cover Letter

The second cover letter, which accompanies the revised version of the manuscript, must be a model of clarity and must address every issue posed by the editor and reviewers ( 10 ). If the revised manuscript is sent for the second round of peer-review, the reviewer (s) will see the letter. The content of the header and footer sections of the revised letter is similar to that of the submitted cover letter. The letter should be directed to the editor as addressed in the first letter unless the authors are informed that a new editor will process the revised version ( 10 ). The first paragraph should start with an “expression of polite gratitude”, e.g., “we would like to thank you for the opportunity to revise and resubmit our manuscript.” The “manuscript ID” or “identification number,” usually assigned by the journal in the first submission, should be addressed in the first paragraph ( 10 ).

The second paragraph usually “signals attention to the reviewers’ comments” by providing an explicit reference to the comments made by the reviewers and the editor. Furthermore, it may contain a positive statement regarding the results, methodology, conclusions, etc., in which case the authors need to acknowledge reviews’ insights ( 10 , 18 ). For example, “We sincerely appreciate all the valuable comments and suggestions made, which helped us improve the revised version of our manuscript” or “we found the reviewers’ comments helpful in guiding us to revise the manuscript.” Such statements will help the authors in creating a polite, formal tone throughout the letter. The paragraph should be followed by providing the editor with a roadmap or a summary of the revisions, addressing “the response to comments attachment.” A point-by-point response to the specific comments of the reviewers must be provided. If the authors disagree with a point raised by a reviewer, a rebuttal or counterstatement may be in order. A scientific and polite approach should spell out why the authors disagree, never losing sight of the reviewer’s opinion ( 19 ).

The footer section (closing salutation) of the letter returns to polite formalities, using statements like “we hope that the revised version of our manuscript is now acceptable to the reviewers, and suitable for publication in the [name of journal], we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience” ( 10 ).

4. Organization

Although it is not a rule, the cover letter’s content can be organized within a cover letter header (opening salutation), three main paragraphs (the body of cover letter), and a cover letter footer (closing salutation), as described in Table 1 .

The cover letter should be initiated by addressing the editor (s) and the target journal; however, the author’s affiliation and contact information may also be included at the top of page ( 4 ). The name of the editor (s) can be easily found on the journal’s information page. If it is known, the authors must address the editor who will receive the manuscript and handle the peer-review process ( 13 ). If there are several co-editors, the person the author feels has the most appropriate background, and specialty of the topic should be addressed. In cases where such information is lacking, authors can mention all editors by name or address the letter to “dear editors” ( 12 ); however, it has been recommended to avoid writing “dear editor” ( 16 ). Also, the submission date and the journal’s name where the manuscript will be submitted are required ( 13 ).

In the first paragraph of the cover letter body, to introduce the submitted work, the title and the type of manuscript, authors’ name, journal name, and manuscript length are presented ( 4 ). In addition, it is mentioned that whether the manuscript is submitted upon an invitation or belongs to a special issue. The importance of the study, including novelty, potential implications, and its take-home message, are addressed in the second paragraph of the cover letter body. In addition, it is explained why the work would be attractive for journal readers. The third paragraph of the cover letter body includes some statements including authorship agreement, conflicts of interest, funding source, and ethical considerations. If required, potential reviewers are also suggested here.

Within the closing salutation, the authors can appreciate the editor for taking the time to read the cover letter and considering the submitted work for potential publication.

5. Some Practical Tips: The Length, and Dos and Don’ts

The authors need to spend plenty of time crafting their cover letters. They are advised to avoid too many details and keep it within one page (less than 200 words), like an introduction or a brief overview ( 4 , 11 ). The authors should check the guide for authors and cover letter suggestions provided by the journal, including all the requirements, e.g., specific disclosures, statements, and potential reviewers. Some publishers (e.g., Springer, https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/journal-author/cover-letters/1398, Taylor & Francis, https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/publishing-your-research/making-your submission/writing-a-journal-article-cover-letter/) provide sample cover letters that the authors can use. Figure 1 provides a sample for a cover letter.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is ijem-19-3-115242-i001.jpg

If the authors address previously published papers in the cover letter, then appropriate citation should be considered. The authors should carefully check the letter for any spelling and grammatical errors ( 11 , 20 ). They should make sure that they correctly spell the name of the journal’s editor (s) ( 4 ). Being careless regarding the editor’s name or the change of a journal’s name in a cover letter of a resubmitted manuscript, can be embarrassing and make a bad impression ( 4 ). It is suggested that the cover letter be written on the authors’ institutional letterhead to display professionalism and reliability ( 20 , 21 ).

5.2. Don’ts

When authors suggest a number of potential reviewers, they should avoid suggesting their friends and colleagues, as this would be viewed as a conflict of interest. Collaborators whom the authors have published with in the past five years should not be suggested either; an editor may easily be informed of such associations by a quick search of PubMed or other databases ( 22 ). The authors should avoid using complex sentence structures, jargon, and acronyms and keep the text straightforward and easy to read ( 11 , 20 ). The authors should also avoid including unrelated personal information or glorifying their past research papers or any of their academic accolades ( 20 ). They must not be rude towards the editors or complement the editor’s accomplishments ( 4 ). The novelty statement should not exaggerate or overstate the findings of the work; furthermore, any conclusion stated should be completely supported by the data provided in the manuscript ( 23 ). Finally, authors are recommended not to write a generic cover letter that could be used for any manuscript and could be sent to any journal ( 21 ).

6. Conclusion

In summary, a cover letter should highlight the novelty, importance, take-home message, and goodness-of-fit of the manuscript to the journal. These are critical information that can persuade an editor that the submitted work merits publication consideration in the journal. The cover letter should not be general but should be custom-written for the target journal. Although the submitted manuscript may usually pass through the peer-review process and get published regardless of the cover letter, a well-written, informative, and concise cover letter increases the chance of gaining acceptance.

Authors' Contribution: Study concept and design, Zahra Bahadoran and Asghar Ghasemi; Drafting of the manuscript, Zahra Bahadoran, Parvin Mirmiran, and Asghar Ghasemi; Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, Khosrow Kashfi and Parvin Mirmiran.

Conflict of Interests: The authors have no conflict of interest.

Funding/Support: This study was supported by the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (grant number 28127).

Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

student in library on laptop

How to Write an Effective Essay

Writing an essay for college admission gives you a chance to use your authentic voice and show your personality. It's an excellent opportunity to personalize your application beyond your academic credentials, and a well-written essay can have a positive influence come decision time.

Want to know how to draft an essay for your college application ? Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing.

Tips for Essay Writing

A typical college application essay, also known as a personal statement, is 400-600 words. Although that may seem short, writing about yourself can be challenging. It's not something you want to rush or put off at the last moment. Think of it as a critical piece of the application process. Follow these tips to write an impactful essay that can work in your favor.

1. Start Early.

Few people write well under pressure. Try to complete your first draft a few weeks before you have to turn it in. Many advisers recommend starting as early as the summer before your senior year in high school. That way, you have ample time to think about the prompt and craft the best personal statement possible.

You don't have to work on your essay every day, but you'll want to give yourself time to revise and edit. You may discover that you want to change your topic or think of a better way to frame it. Either way, the sooner you start, the better.

2. Understand the Prompt and Instructions.

Before you begin the writing process, take time to understand what the college wants from you. The worst thing you can do is skim through the instructions and submit a piece that doesn't even fit the bare minimum requirements or address the essay topic. Look at the prompt, consider the required word count, and note any unique details each school wants.

3. Create a Strong Opener.

Students seeking help for their application essays often have trouble getting things started. It's a challenging writing process. Finding the right words to start can be the hardest part.

Spending more time working on your opener is always a good idea. The opening sentence sets the stage for the rest of your piece. The introductory paragraph is what piques the interest of the reader, and it can immediately set your essay apart from the others.

4. Stay on Topic.

One of the most important things to remember is to keep to the essay topic. If you're applying to 10 or more colleges, it's easy to veer off course with so many application essays.

A common mistake many students make is trying to fit previously written essays into the mold of another college's requirements. This seems like a time-saving way to avoid writing new pieces entirely, but it often backfires. The result is usually a final piece that's generic, unfocused, or confusing. Always write a new essay for every application, no matter how long it takes.

5. Think About Your Response.

Don't try to guess what the admissions officials want to read. Your essay will be easier to write─and more exciting to read─if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about your subject. Here’s an example: If all your friends are writing application essays about covid-19, it may be a good idea to avoid that topic, unless during the pandemic you had a vivid, life-changing experience you're burning to share. Whatever topic you choose, avoid canned responses. Be creative.

6. Focus on You.

Essay prompts typically give you plenty of latitude, but panel members expect you to focus on a subject that is personal (although not overly intimate) and particular to you. Admissions counselors say the best essays help them learn something about the candidate that they would never know from reading the rest of the application.

7. Stay True to Your Voice.

Use your usual vocabulary. Avoid fancy language you wouldn't use in real life. Imagine yourself reading this essay aloud to a classroom full of people who have never met you. Keep a confident tone. Be wary of words and phrases that undercut that tone.

8. Be Specific and Factual.

Capitalize on real-life experiences. Your essay may give you the time and space to explain why a particular achievement meant so much to you. But resist the urge to exaggerate and embellish. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays each year. They can easily spot a fake.

9. Edit and Proofread.

When you finish the final draft, run it through the spell checker on your computer. Then don’t read your essay for a few days. You'll be more apt to spot typos and awkward grammar when you reread it. After that, ask a teacher, parent, or college student (preferably an English or communications major) to give it a quick read. While you're at it, double-check your word count.

Writing essays for college admission can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. A well-crafted essay could be the deciding factor─in your favor. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll have no problem creating memorable pieces for every application.

What is the format of a college application essay?

Generally, essays for college admission follow a simple format that includes an opening paragraph, a lengthier body section, and a closing paragraph. You don't need to include a title, which will only take up extra space. Keep in mind that the exact format can vary from one college application to the next. Read the instructions and prompt for more guidance.

Most online applications will include a text box for your essay. If you're attaching it as a document, however, be sure to use a standard, 12-point font and use 1.5-spaced or double-spaced lines, unless the application specifies different font and spacing.

How do you start an essay?

The goal here is to use an attention grabber. Think of it as a way to reel the reader in and interest an admissions officer in what you have to say. There's no trick on how to start a college application essay. The best way you can approach this task is to flex your creative muscles and think outside the box.

You can start with openers such as relevant quotes, exciting anecdotes, or questions. Either way, the first sentence should be unique and intrigue the reader.

What should an essay include?

Every application essay you write should include details about yourself and past experiences. It's another opportunity to make yourself look like a fantastic applicant. Leverage your experiences. Tell a riveting story that fulfills the prompt.

What shouldn’t be included in an essay?

When writing a college application essay, it's usually best to avoid overly personal details and controversial topics. Although these topics might make for an intriguing essay, they can be tricky to express well. If you’re unsure if a topic is appropriate for your essay, check with your school counselor. An essay for college admission shouldn't include a list of achievements or academic accolades either. Your essay isn’t meant to be a rehashing of information the admissions panel can find elsewhere in your application.

How can you make your essay personal and interesting?

The best way to make your essay interesting is to write about something genuinely important to you. That could be an experience that changed your life or a valuable lesson that had an enormous impact on you. Whatever the case, speak from the heart, and be honest.

Is it OK to discuss mental health in an essay?

Mental health struggles can create challenges you must overcome during your education and could be an opportunity for you to show how you’ve handled challenges and overcome obstacles. If you’re considering writing your essay for college admission on this topic, consider talking to your school counselor or with an English teacher on how to frame the essay.

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Three simple yet effective tips to write a winning cybersecurity resume.

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CEO and cofounder of Cyber Leadership Institute , a fast-growing community of cyberleaders from more than 50 countries.

There has never been a better time to be in cybersecurity. The internet is awash with reports of an endemic shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Predictably, cybersecurity salaries are also on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), "security analysts earned a median salary of $122,000 in 2022 , almost two and a half times higher than the median wage for all workers."

This trend begs an important question: Given the increased demand, why are many cybersecurity professionals still struggling to land their dream jobs? In my experience mentoring dozens of experienced cybersecurity professionals who go through our flagship Cyber Leadership Program, one reason stands out. Hiring managers get hundreds of applications for each advertised role. Sifting through hundreds of resumes, mostly rambling and loosely tied to the advertised role, feels like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Here are three simple yet highly effective steps to create a winning cybersecurity resume:

Personalize your resume for each application.

Simply uploading a one-size-fits-all resume to any job advert that pops up doesn't cut it. To stand out, you must carefully tailor every application by highlighting skills and keywords relevant to the advertised role. For example, rambling about your security operations or GRC skills while applying for a role explicitly looking for a Microsoft Azure Cloud Security Engineer automatically pushes your resume down the packing order.

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But when you spend enough time studying the requirements and highlighting your in-depth skills deploying network security groups, Microsoft Defender, Azure security architectures, Azure Active Directories and other critical skills sought by the employer, your resume will earn the attention of the hiring manager.

Similarly, underscoring that you are a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) when applying for a red teaming role that clearly states Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) or Certified Red Team Operator (CRTO) as prerequisites is a waste of everyone's time.

CISM and CISSP certainly have their place, but winning cybersecurity resumes are ruthlessly specific. They showcase skills that address the pain points the employer is seeking to address. It's not about you; it's about the employer and the specific skill sets you can bring to their company.

As you move up the career ladder, targeted resumes become increasingly significant. Technical skills, powerful differentiators in functional roles, become less critical. It's imperative to focus heavily on leadership gaps the employer seeks (e.g., managing a multi-million-dollar budget, building high-performing teams, drafting compelling board reports, interfacing with external stakeholders, etc.).

Show, don't tell.

You have probably been told countless times that you should “show, don’t tell” when writing. Mastering the art of showing is the surest way to get noticed by a recruiter or hiring manager. The basic premise is that once you have carefully studied the role, you must demonstrate how you have solved similar problems through clear-cut case studies and lived examples, how you have solved similar issues. Let's demonstrate this through two examples.

Don't say this:

Extensive experience securing systems in the cloud.

Spearheaded a multi-million-dollar security modernization program to replace hardware-based security tools (firewalls, email security gateway, virtual private network, internet security and privileged access management) with cloud-based solutions. The project reduced run costs by $200K, simplified architecture and streamlined vendor governance.

Recognized cybersecurity awareness champion.

Collaborated with the people and culture team to roll out a multi-faceted cyber cultural uplift program comprising business-embedded cybersecurity ambassadors, an extensive library of engaging bite-sized training modules, simulated phishing and targeted training for high-risk groups.

Anyone can claim to possess extensive experience or a strong understanding of something. Claiming to be great at something without showing anything for it is the surest way for the hiring manager to press Control + Shift + Delete. Or, if you're lucky enough to make the interview, employers may throw you into lower-pay brackets.

To deploy this timeless technique effectively, you must resist the constant urge to play modestly. Unfortunately, most cybersecurity professionals we interact with are still held back by the belief that there is something unpleasant about talking themselves up. But that's precisely the purpose of your resume. Showcase your skills.

Simply put, if you don't celebrate your achievements, no one will. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean exaggerating, lying or "telling the truth in advance."

Write a compelling cover letter.

Once you have drafted your resume, the next step is writing a compelling cover letter. As Mary Elizabeth Bradford wrote, "Be sure to get right to the point. Share your focus of direction, respectfully call out a few examples of success, then invite them to learn more by looking at your resume."

All held constant, the cover letter is your last chance to shine by showcasing your persuasive writing, enthusiasm about the role, and why the hiring manager should invite you to an interview. Remember, the purpose of your cover letter is to complement your resume, not repeat it. Cover letters that lazily summarize your resume without considering your audience and expressing your unique personality are redundant.

A targeted resume is your greatest asset when applying for a job. If you demonstrate that you can solve the issues the recruiter lists, you become a front runner for the position and land the opportunity to interview, which is where you seal the deal.

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Dear Colleague Letter: Innovative Use of Scientific Collections (IUSC)

March 18, 2024

Dear Colleagues:

With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), the National Science Foundation (NSF) encourages submission of proposals to participating NSF programs (listed below) that foster Innovative Use of Scientific Collections (IUSC) and/or associated digital data for novel research, education, and training applications within and across STEM disciplines.


Scientific collections are a fundamental resource underpinning scientific understanding and discovery. A 2014 memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) defines scientific collections as "sets of physical objects, living or inanimate, and their supporting records and documentation, which are used in science and resource management and serve as long-term research assets." The 2018 NASEM report , "Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for 21st Century Research," emphasized the importance of preservation of and access to scientific collections and associated digital records to support scientific transparency, reproducibility, and discovery. A 2020 NASEM report concluded that threats to the sustainability of the nation's biodiversity collections include"...a general lack of understanding of their value and their contributions to research and education." Specific language in the Chips and Science Act, HR4346 emphasizes the importance of NSF's continued support for securing and improving collections and collection-related data, and NASEM decadal surveys in the geosciences (e.g., the 2015 " Sea Change report for the ocean sciences and the 2020 " Earth in Time " report for the earth sciences) have identified the critical need for curation, preservation, and expansion of access to physical samples to address scientific priorities. One way to improve this situation is to increase and diversify the ways in which the research community can access and use scientific collections and collections-associated digital data and metadata .

NSF has made significant investments in collections and collections-associated data over the last decade. Collections-focused NSF initiatives in the recent past have included the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program and the Collections competitive area of the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology. Currently, investments in collections include the Capacity: Biological Collections programmatic area in the BIO Division of Biological Infrastructure as well as collection of biological, genomic, and geological samples and specimens collected by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) from terrestrial and aquatic sites and housed at the NEON Biorepository. The Geosciences Directorate has long supported samples and collections through its core and sample repositories, and NSF cyberinfrastructure-oriented programs have supported projects to manage collections-associated data and metadata, such as iDigBio and certain projects funded through EarthCube and GEO Open Science Ecosystem programs. In addition, disciplinary research-oriented programs across the foundation have supported efforts to use collections and physical samples, either embedded into research projects or as standalone efforts. Increasing and diversifying the use of collections and collections-associated data would maximize the research, training, and education return on these investments .

Collections and the associated data are powerful yet underutilized research and educational resources. While collection use is routine and vital in several biology, geoscience, and anthropology subdisciplines, an immense untapped potential exists for their use in other fields and subfields such as the social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, cell and molecular biology, microbial ecology, engineering and materials science, conservation biology, Earth science, critical minerals, ocean science, polar science, and computer science, as well as in training, education, and broadening participation in STEM. Collections of physical samples and resulting data are also a critical long-term archive of biodiversity, climate change, and fluctuations in other Earth systems and can contribute to research towards a sustainable bioeconomy . Furthermore, the cost of increasing research and educational use of collections is in many cases small, since the resources already exist and are often freely accessible. This creates an opportunity for low-cost but high-impact research projects that also engage students in authentic research experiences. In addition, developing community partnerships between established collections (such as in natural history museums), and training programs at primarily undergraduate institutions or minority-serving institutions , creates a strong potential to broaden participation.

Increasing and diversifying the use of collections and collections-associated data thus has the potential to improve understanding of their value in research, training, and education; contribute to fundamental research in fields and subfields that currently underutilize them; and broaden participation by increasing opportunities for developing or strengthening partnerships.


NSF encourages the submission of proposals that foster Innovative Use of Scientific Collections and/or associated digital data for novel research, education, and training applications within and across STEM disciplines.

Examples of such proposals include, but are not limited to, those that:

  • Propose innovative use of existing biodiversity, living stocks, geological, anthropological, and/or behavioral collections, images and other digital media, and collections-associated data, including to develop or apply new analytical techniques or to answer new scientific questions beyond the original intention of the collections
  • Integrate the use of existing collections and collections-associated data in fields that traditionally have made little use of collections
  • Create partnerships to use existing collections and collections-associated data in research, training, and education by primarily undergraduate institutions, minority-serving institutions, and other under-resourced institutions
  • Make use of biological, genomic, and/or geological samples and specimens collected by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) from terrestrial and aquatic sites and housed at the NEON Biorepository
  • Include as a Broader Impact the use of existing collections to engage students in authentic research experiences

The following NSF programs welcome submission of proposals responsive to this DCL: Directorate for Biological Sciences

  • Division of Biological Infrastructure/ Capacity: Biological Collections
  • Division of Environmental Biology/ Evolutionary Processes
  • Division of Environmental Biology/ Population and Community Ecology
  • Division of Environmental Biology/ Systematics and Biodiversity Science
  • Division of Environmental Biology/ Ecosystem Science

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

  • Division of Information and Intelligent Systems/ Human-Centered Computing
  • Division of Information and Intelligent Systems/ Information Integration and Informatics
  • Division of Information and Intelligent Systems/ Robust Intelligence

Directorate for Geosciences

  • Division of Earth Sciences/ Frontier Research in Earth Sciences
  • Division of Earth Sciences/ Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry
  • Division of Earth Sciences/ Geomorphology and Land-use Dynamics
  • Division of Earth Sciences/ Geoinformatics
  • Division of Earth Sciences/ Petrology and Geochemistry
  • Division of Earth Sciences/ Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology
  • Division of Ocean Sciences/ Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • Office of Polar Programs/ Arctic Sciences
  • Office of Polar Programs/ Antarctic Sciences

Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences

  • Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences/Biological Anthropology
  • Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences/ Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences/Cultural Anthropology
  • Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences/ Developmental Sciences
  • Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences/ Human Networks and Data Science – Infrastructure
  • Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences/ Perception, Action & Cognition
  • Division of Social and Economic Sciences/ Science and Technology Studies


In advance of submitting a proposal in response to this DCL, interested proposers are strongly encouraged to contact a cognizant Program Officer in the relevant NSF program(s).

Proposals should follow the guidelines, deadlines (if any), budget limitations (if any), and solicitation-specific criteria of the relevant NSF program(s). Awards for projects responsive to this DCL will be funded through the relevant NSF program(s).

The proposal title should begin with "IUSC:" after any PAPPG and/or solicitation-specific title requirements, if applicable. Proposals that fail to address the objectives and guidance described in this DCL and in the relevant funding opportunity may be returned without review.

NSF is broadly interested in enabling discovery through the use and reuse of existing resources with untapped potential. Proposals responsive to this DCL should be primarily focused on innovative use of physical specimens and of data tracing back to physical specimens.

Questions should be directed to Program Directors in the relevant NSF research program(s); not the signatories to this DCL.

Susan Marqusee Assistant Director Directorate for Biological Sciences Alexandra Isern Assistant Director Directorate for Geosciences Dilma Da Silva Acting Assistant Director Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering Sylvia Butterfield Acting Assistant Director Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences


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    Tips for Essay Writing. A typical college application essay, also known as a personal statement, is 400-600 words. Although that may seem short, writing about yourself can be challenging. It's not something you want to rush or put off at the last moment. Think of it as a critical piece of the application process.

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