The corresponding author/guarantor has primary responsibility for correspondence with the journal, but the ICMJE recommends that editors send a copy of any correspondence to all listed authors.
Biomedical journals should provide the readership with a mechanism for submitting comments, questions, or criticisms about published articles, as well as brief reports and commentary unrelated to previously published articles. This probably but not necessarily takes the form of a correspondence section or column. The authors of articles discussed in correspondence should be given an opportunity to respond, preferably in the same issue in which the original correspondence appears. Authors of correspondence should be asked to declare any competing or conflicting interests.
Published correspondence may be edited for length, grammatical correctness, and journal style. Alternatively, editors may choose to publish unedited correspondence, for example in rapid-response sections on the Internet. The journal should declare its editorial practices in this regard. Authors should approve editorial changes that alter the substance or tone of a letter or response. In all instances, editors must make an effort to screen discourteous, inaccurate, or libelous statements and should not allow ad hominem arguments intended to discredit opinions or findings.
Although editors have the prerogative to reject correspondence that is irrelevant, uninteresting, or lacking cogency, they have a responsibility to allow a range of opinions to be expressed. The correspondence column should not be used merely to promote the journal’s or the editors’ point of view.
In the interests of fairness and to keep correspondence within manageable proportions, journals may want to set time limits for responding to published material and for debate on a given topic. Journals should also decide whether they would notify authors when correspondence bearing on their published work is going to appear in standard or rapid-response sections. Journals should also set policy with regard to the archiving of unedited correspondence that appears online. These policies should be published both in print and electronic versions of the journal.
- About the Recommendations
- Roles & Responsibilities
- Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors
- Author Responsibilities—Conflicts of Interest
- Responsibilities in the Submission and Peer-Review Process
- Journal Owners and Editorial Freedom
- Protection of Research Participants
- Publishing & Editorial Issues
- Corrections and Version Control
- Scientific Misconduct, Expressions of Concern, and Retraction
- Overlapping Publications
- Supplements, Theme Issues, and Special Series
- Electronic Publishing
- Journals and the Media
- Clinical Trial Registration
- Manuscript Preparation