Letters to the editor have a valuable place in the scientific literature, and journals further science by including selected letters to the editor in response to recently published papers. A good letter to the editor has a definite structure and format, and is usually limited to fewer than 500 words. Letters to the editor in this setting should be sent within a few weeks of publication of the paper.
Letters in response to previously published articles should not exceed 500 words and five references; replies from authors should not exceed 500 words and five references; and announcement, general interest, and research letters should not exceed 500 words and seven references. When original research is being published as a letter, only one table or one figure may be allowed, at the discretion of Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care. All accepted letters that discuss a recently published article are sent to the corresponding author of the original work.
When the author of a paper published in the Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care is notified that a letter to the editor has been received and will be published, the author should seriously consider a response. This approach allows the author to clarify or expand the data in the original publication, acknowledge possible alternative conclusions or methods, or dispute the allegations of the letter writer.
Some published papers may generate a number of letters to the editor, and Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care may chose to publish all letters that are deemed worthy. In such a situation, the author of the original published paper is granted an increased word count to fully and accurately address the points made in all published letters. If, however, the author of the paper does not wish to respond, the Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care will publish the letters without further comment.