Image Credit: Kate Ter Haar

As an editor you likely go through a weekly (or perhaps daily!) circuit of emailing out review requests, manuscript acceptance decisions, and rejection letters. With the frequency that you’re sending near duplicate emails to authors and reviewers, have you considered creating email templates to save time?

Templates are model emails that contain the basic information you include in all emails on a particular topic. For example, you can draft an email template for manuscript acceptances that details the next steps you send all authors of accepted manuscripts. Your journal can keep a document with template text that you paste into emails as needed or, for a more streamlined process, you can use peer review software like Scholastica that includes built-in email templates with merge tags. Merge tags will allow you to have certain information, like a recipient’s name, merged into your email automatically upon sending it.

The timesaving benefits of email templates are pretty plain to see, but you may be wondering what is the best way to craft email templates that are uniform but still allow for personalization. The key is to build customization opportunities into your templates so you’re able to easily insert information specific to your recipients as needed.

To help you get started, we’ve drafted some templates for common correspondences that you can customize to meet your journal’s needs. We’ve also created a Google doc with Markdown versions of these templates, which can be copied and pasted right into Scholastica:

Manuscript Acceptance Letter

One of the highlights of being a journal editor is getting to inform scholars who’ve authored high-quality manuscripts that you would like to publish their work. You’ll have even more time to enjoy this moment when you have an acceptance letter template to start with! The goal for your acceptance email should be to include as much upfront information as you can regarding next steps the author must take in order to move their submission to publication, as well as to address any common questions authors tend to ask at this point in the submission process.

Here’s an example acceptance letter:

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Hello {Insert author name},
I am pleased to inform you that {Insert journal name} would like to publish your manuscript "{Insert article name}" in our next issue. I am attaching a document with some basic required edits that need to be applied to your manuscript before it’s published.
In order to proceed to publish your submission we will need you to submit the following:
* A signed author agreement: [ADD LINK HERE...]
* Your edited manuscript - please include all of the edits outlined in the attached file
* [Insert any additional items your journal requires here...]
At this time we also want to remind you of our copyright and open access policies, [ADD LINK HERE...].
Once your manuscript is moved to publishing, our production editor will keep you informed of your article’s progress in the production process. You will also receive a proof of your manuscript for final review.
We’re excited to move forward with your submission. Please feel free to email me with any questions.
Sincerely,
{Insert editor name}

Manuscript Rejection Letter Following Peer Review

As much as you enjoy sending manuscript acceptance letters, crafting dreaded rejection letters is likely ten times worse. No editor likes to be the bearer of bad news. But, we promise, there are ways to make your rejections more constructive, and having a template will help you ensure you’re always including all of the information you should.

Below is an example:

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Hello {Insert author name},
Thank you for submitting your manuscript "{Insert title}" to {Insert journal name}. Following careful consideration by the journal's editorial board and a group of expert reviewers, I regret to inform you that we are unable to accept your submission.
Although {Insert positive qualities about the manuscript here}, our editorial board and expert reviewers determined that the paper {Insert high-level explanation of why the paper doesn’t meet your publication standards}. Primary concerns expressed were that:
- [Insert specific concern...]
- [Insert specific concern...]
- [Insert specific concern...]
I am including the reviewer comments in this email for your reference. I hope you find this information helpful for submission at another journal, and we hope to see more of your work in the future.
Sincerely,
{Insert editor name}

Desk Rejection Letter

There will be times when you receive a manuscript that is clearly not a good fit for your journal, either because it is not a sound submission or because it falls beyond the grounds of your journal’s particular aims and scope. In this case, it’s important to be able to quickly send a desk rejection to the author, both to avoid delaying your journal’s manuscript time to decision and out of courtesy to the author so he or she can re-work the submission where needed and send it out to a different publication.

Here is a sample desk rejection:

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Hello {Insert author name},
Thank you for submitting your manuscript "{Insert title}" to {Insert journal name}.
After careful consideration by our editors, we regret to inform you that we must decline this submission on editorial grounds and subsequently have declined to send the paper out to external peer reviewers. We found that {Insert explanation of why this particular manuscript is not fit for your publication...}. This paper may be a better fit for {Insert name(s) of other journals)}.
We thank you for your interest, and hope you choose to submit another article for review in the future.
Sincerely,
{Insert editor name}

Revise and Resubmit Request

Somewhere in-between the joys of sending acceptance letters and the woes of sending manuscript rejections lies the revise and resubmit request. Your journal will likely send out one of these to an author before you accept his or her submission. Perhaps even more important than the email body of your revise and resubmit request is that you ensure the reviewer comments you send the author are reasonable and indicate actionable steps for improvement. Once you’ve done this, be sure to attach them to your email and explain all next steps the author must take to proceed with the necessary revisions.

Here’s an example:

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Hello {Insert author name},
Thank you for submitting your manuscript "{Insert title}" to {Insert journal name}. The editorial team and a group of expert reviewers have assessed your submission and feel that it has potential for publication, and so we would like to invite you to revise the paper and resubmit for further review.
We appreciate that your paper addresses {Insert positive quality about the paper's key objective}, but there were some concerns raised with regard to {Insert key concerns}. Please see the attached reviewer comments for further details about necessary revisions.
We ask that you submit the revised version of your manuscript by {Insert explanation of how to do this}.Please note, your revised manuscript should be accompanied by a summary of your responses to the reviewers' comments.
You have {Insert number} weeks to respond to this revise and resubmit request ending on {Insert hard deadline}, after which point we will presume that you have withdrawn your submission from {Insert journal name}.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Sincerely,
{Insert editor name}

Referee Request

We’ve spent a bit of time looking at author correspondences, but what about those review requests you’re always writing? The ideal review request should be friendly and to the point, including links to your journals peer review documents for those interested in learning more about your specific review process.

Here’s one approach:

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Hello {Insert referee name},
{Insert journal name} has just received a manuscript entitled "{Insert manuscript name}," which I believe is your area of expertise and thought you might be interested in peer reviewing. I am including the article abstract in this email for your reference.
Would you be willing to submit a peer review for this article? I would need your review comments within the next {Insert number} weeks by {Insert hard deadline}.
[INSERT ABSTRACT HERE...]
If you’re willing to review this submission, I’ll need you to: {Insert next steps}.
For more information on {Insert journal name’s} peer review policy you can {Explain webpage link to visit or attach PDF with further information}.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
{Insert editor name}

Access these email templates in Markdown that you can use in Scholastica

We hope you find these sample peer review email templates useful! For those reading this who are Scholastica users, or if you’re interested in learning more about how Scholastica email templates work, be sure to check out our Editor Help Guide templates instructions. We’ve also put Markdown versions of these email templates into a Google Doc. Markdown is the formatting syntax Scholastica uses to ensure your text is always formatted as you intend it. If you use Scholastica you can easily copy and paste these templates right into your account!

The Journal Editor's Definitive Guide to Digital Publishing