Types of Articles
“Responsible debate, critique and disagreement are important features of science, and journal editors should encourage such discourse ideally within their own journals about the material they have published,” according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.4 The correspondence section can include letters to the editor, responses from authors, and online comments and should provide readers with a mechanism for submitting comments, questions, or criticisms about published articles.4 As part of the responsibility that authors assume in return for having their articles published, they are held accountable for responding to critical points from readers.5 This type of interaction is an important part of postpublication peer review and helps foster responsible scientific dialogue (see 5.11.8, Ethical and Legal Considerations, Editorial Responsibilities, Roles, Procedures, and Policies, Correspondence [Letters to the Editor]).5
Letters that raise reasonable and important questions about the scientific, clinical, or ethical aspects of a study or appropriate interpretation, along with scholarly replies from the authors, can make for informative, useful, and lively exchanges. Another form of postpublication exchange between readers and authors of published articles involves online commenting and responses, with the exchanges posted on journal websites or other venues rather than published as letters in journals.
1.5.2 Research Letters.
Some journals also include brief articles that report original research data in a concise manner. For example, the JAMA Network journals classify these as Research Letters.6 These reports contain brief Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections; are peer reviewed and subject to editorial review, like other research reports; and have limitations for length, number of references, and numbers of tables and figures. Research letters are indexed in bibliometric databases and may be an effective way for authors to publish concise, focused reports of studies.6