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Are Editors free from bias? The special case of Letters to the Editor
  1. B Pless
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor I B Pless
 Editor; barry.pless{at}mcgill.ca

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Readers may occasionally wonder whether an Editor can truly be unbiased when it comes to deciding what to publish. In general the answer is “probably not”, but a better answer is that it depends on what sort of material we have in mind. In the old days, it was only print publications that concerned us. Nowadays, we need also to consider what is published electronically. For papers or similar material that may appear on websites, the decision-making process is almost identical to that used for print publication. The process of deciding which papers to publish has been well studied. I am convinced the peer review process minimizes some biases. But Letters to the Editor are an entirely different matter.

There are several types of letters. One is “Research letters”. These are short communications addressed to the Editor that report data. In Injury Prevention, they were effectively the same as a Brief Report. As such, they were peer reviewed, but their limited length made them interesting but insubstantial. As a result, they are not often quoted. Editors with an eye on their impact factor may conclude (as we have done) that as long …

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