I along with my guide wrote a research publication, which had to be sent to a journal for the purpose of review. My professor wrote the cover letter of the paper as follows:

Dear Editor in Chief

You are requested to review the paper "Title of the paper"....


This cover letter is from the authors of the research paper (me and my supervisor) to the Editor-in-chief of the journal, requesting that our paper be reviewed.

To me, this seems a very impolite way of beginning a cover letter addressed to an Editor-in-chief who is much higher in rank and position than us. On the other hand, we are mere authors of the paper. I believe that a phrase like "You are requested" is used by a top authority to those below it, or when both the writer and reader are at the same rank. Does the phrase "You are requested" seem impolite, when it is written to an authority much higher than you (i.e. by a mere author to an editor-in-chief of a journal), or is it fine?

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    Hi ShiS — Writers does not handle questions about specific words or phrases. This question may be on-topic in English SE, but I am not sure what their rules are. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 15:37
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    I would call this more "archaic" or "overly-formal" than impolite. For example, wedding invitations often being with the somewhat archaic formula "Your attendance is requested..." Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 5:01
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    For submitting to, and otherwise interacting with, an academic journal, academia.SX is appropriate, although there are many Qs in this area already and this one could well be a duplicate. Personally, much more than the word tone, I would worry about the lack of content, particularly any explanation why 'paper' is a good fit for the topic area and approach of that journal. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 7:01
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    As a point of note, this question was asked on English.SE a couple of hours before it appeared here. ShiS, please don't cross-post. If you don't know where a question is best, post where you think it is and then allow the rest of the community to decide for you. If you want to pre-empt that because you have changed your mind, flag your post and ask for it to be moved. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 8:20

5 Answers 5


"You are requested", in general usage, gives the impression you are ordering someone to do something, albeit in an oblique way. It's similar to the usage of "With all due respect..." It sounds neutral, but everyone knows (enough that jokes about it are common) that what follows that phrase is probably not going to be respectful in the least. If you look at suggested cover letters for writers to submit to editors, for example, they'll say things such as "I’m submitting this to be considered for publication...".

The editor knows what their job is; "You are requested to review..." sounds like you're telling them what it is.

"Why thank you author. Until you told me to review this paper you are submitting, I had no idea that I reviewed papers people submit."


Just as a test, I asked my wife what her reaction would be if she received an message from someone she works with (she works for a government department) that began "You are requested to do..." something. Her direct quote was that she'd be tempted to tell the person to "Fuck off." She said she would have seen it as someone ordering her to do something. My co-workers whom I asked gave the same sort of response; if it came from a superior, it was a thinly disguised order. If from someone else, it was trying to tell them to do something with a veneer of false politeness.

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    On the contrary, "With all due respect..." usually indicates that the speaker is giving all the respect that the target is due.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 23:44
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    @Mark While it is true that the speaker gives all respect the target is due, (at least the speaker thinks that) the target doesn't deserve much respect. Therefore the statement that what comes after "with all due respect" is in most cases not respectful is also true.
    – Ivo
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 0:09
  • @Mark - tvtropes.org/Main/WithDueRespect
    – Malady
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 16:13

As an academic myself, I write

We submit our paper, "title of paper", for your review.

In the end I think editors don't care or bias their treatment either way, they deal with numerous submissions from people with many native languages writing English as a second or third language, and they are themselves intellectuals, they aren't going to let petty emotions of rank get in the way of providing a good paper in their journal.

  • Strictly speaking, is not the EiC who reviews the paper. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 15:46
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    Yaa, EIC does not review the paper. He choses the reviewers and sends them the paper for review. However, he can desk reject the paper, if he does not find the paper good enough to be sent for review
    – ShiS
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 1:23
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    @ShiS 1st, the EIC does review the paper enough to see if it is worth sending to peer review, and 2nd, the EIC reads the peer reviews and makes their own decision on whether the suggestions of the peer reviewers are worthy of rejecting the paper or not. I have peer reviewed dozens of papers, and I've seen papers accepted despite my rejection of them. It is a judgment call by the EIC. To say "for your review" is accurate, even if they recruit subordinates to help them; the buck stops at the EIC desk.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 18:09

I would say it 'sounds' pretentious for this reason—

"you ARE requested" uses the 'passive voice' – which talks about 'state'*, over action. This implies that an [perhaps] authority** other than the speaker/writer has issued an outstanding request; it removes the human agency from the request by removing the issuer of the request from the explicit statement.

Instead, try: "I request..." or the more deferential "I would request". It becomes clear, without pretense or much [frothy] implication, who requests.

* the state of BEING requested

** or else, why would anyone care who issued the request, if that issuer falls below the threshold of authoritative? The delivery of the statement itself implies the there-presupposed significance of the issuing authority.

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    I don't think "I would request" is correct. You are either requesting it or not. It's trying to weaken the impact of the sentence, but by doing so it is making it a false statement. I'd rather use "I politely request" instead to reach that intended goal. I would not use it personally; in the end I want the thing reviewed, rather than have it sitting in a desk at the receivers end. Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 13:51

Dictionary defines to request as to politely or formally ask for something. So by definition it is not rude.
You request things from your seniors ("Boss, here is my leave request"). If there is a problem it stems from the passive voice. "I request that you review my paper" is unequivocally polite but "you are requested" leaves some ambiguity, has the request been made by someone who has authority over the reviewer rather than by the author? Or perhaps it is actually humble, "far be it from me to ask that you review my paper, I dare not even mention myself in the request"
I suspect that no offence would be taken by the editor.

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    There's a dictionary definition and there's the message that is delivered, which might not be the same thing at all. "Nice family you have. Be a shame if anything happened to them." is, by strict definition, merely stating an observation. In the real world, thanks to cultural osmosis, that's usually considered a blatant threat. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 19:16

"You are requested" does sound a bit commanding. Perhaps "you have been requested" would fit better, as it is a passive phrase that removes some of the causation from the request. It's a common way to remove blame from the person talking -- such as the classic "mistakes were made" phrase that's often used in political situations to derive attention away from the person speaking.

  • Isn't the word "You" at the beginning of sentence itself a bit commanding, considering the fact that a mere author of the paper is writing it to Editor-in-chief ? It is being written in a cover letter for submission of paper of the author to the Editor-in-chief of the journal by an author
    – ShiS
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 11:43
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    @ShiS if the purpose of the paper is to have the editor review the paper, then wouldn't you want to be at least a little commanding? I would think you need to show at least some assertiveness with your paper -- otherwise the editor may never get to it.
    – Freerey
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 12:19

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