Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol 2020; 33(06): v
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1718895

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Kenneth A. Johnson
1  Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
› Institutsangaben
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Kenneth A. Johnson, MVSc, PhD, FACVSc, DACVS, DECVS

The ‘letter to the editor’ is a less commonly known forum to publish a short communication in Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology (VCOT). The function of such letters is to highlight, dispute or rectify interpretations of data, or matters of fact, apparent in a recently published paper in VCOT, or rarely, other related journals. Although all papers published in VCOT are rigorously peer-reviewed, some errors or issues can inevitably go un-noticed. As we know, the peer-review process is not perfect. So, the letter to the editor is a control mechanism that facilitates ongoing dialogue in the public arena, after an article has been published.[1]

In journals devoted to the basic sciences and the various disciplines of medicine, letters to the editor are published frequently. However, in veterinary medicine, their role and value are perhaps misunderstood, because veterinarians are shy or reticent ‘to pen’ such a missive. Perhaps it is considered impolite to publicly disagree with a colleague. However, the letter to the editor has a critical function in promoting the high standards of scientific publishing. The International Committed on Medical Journal Editors recommends publication of these letters, together with their answers.[2] Furthermore, letters to the editor published in VCOT are indexed in a PUBMED search under the title of the original article, to prevent their escape from reader's attention.

Most importantly, letters to the editors must be short and concise. They should not be rude or denigrate others, but be courteous and relevant.[1] Good letters are objective and based on scientific evidence, not personal opinion and bias. They do not reiterate data, topics or discussion already covered in the original publication. Their main value is to approach a topic from a different perspective, to present additional data or to criticize the justification, analysis or outcome of a study.[2] The over-riding intention is to advance our knowledge and understanding of current issues and problems in our field. May I recommend reading the letter to the editor[3] and the authors reply to the letter,[4] regarding the recent article published in VCOT[5] because it may help to gain a better understanding of the clinical problem of plate strain in bridge-plating of non-reconstructed diaphyseal fractures.


12. November 2020 (online)

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