Q: Should letters to the editor be checked for factual accuracy before publication?
Should letters to the editor be checked for factual accuracy before publication?
Letters to the editor are usually a type of short communication that can be written on any topic that attracts the attention of the readers. The most frequent reason for writing a letter to the editor is to comment on a published article. In such cases, the author of the criticized article is invited by the journal editor to write an answer to the letter. Often, the letter to the editor and the answer to the letter are published together. Thus, a letter to the editor becomes a means of communication between the author of an article and the reader of the journal.
A letter to the editor is treated like any other manuscript and goes through a rigorous review before it is published in the journal. Often, the review process for letters to the editor are internal, and even if sent out for external review, the number of reviewers is usually less than an original article. However, letters to the editor are generally checked for factual accuracy, evidence based criticism, and tone before they are published. Most journal editors expect to receive brief, and clearly comprehensible letters that have a clear purpose and scientific merit. Letters that comment on a previous publication need to be evidence-based, that is, based on scientific data. The tone should be polite and professional.