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The letter of submission: avoiding the promotional genre

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2 Author(s)
Shaw, P. ; Sch. of Bus., Aarhus ; Okamura, A.

There is a lot at stake when one submits an article for publication in a journal. The writer risks losing face by having the article rejected, but the writer's employment may also depend on publication. The writer is in a relatively powerless position; the editor who receives the article is in a more powerful position, making a judgement beyond which there is no appeal. The article is accompanied by a letter of submission in a stressful situation that might be expected to call for what V.K. Bhatia (1993) describes as a “promotional letter”. These are letters written by people who hope to get some benefit from the recipient which the recipient is under no obligation to grant, e.g., unsolicited sales letters in business and letters of application. Bhatia characterizes promotional letters as having seven moves, which are listed. In contrast, actual letters of submission are rather short and cool and do not conform to Bhatia's model. The failure of submission letters to match the general “promotional” form that seems to be applicable to the power relations involved raises several questions. Is Bhatia's hypothesis that power relations and the purpose of the letter determine the content simply wrong, or is its operation suspended here by some subcultural convention? And if so, why? We carried out an investigation designed to resolve some of these questions and collected submission letters of four different types

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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:41 ,  Issue: 4 )