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Writing a letter to the editor of a local or national newspaper or magazine in response to a recent article is an effective way to make your voice heard.

There's no guarantee that your letter will be published, but there's a sure fire way that it won't be: if you don't write it. So when you see an article about research or funding and have something to say, write it quickly and send it into your local paper's editors.

Editors can't publish letters they don't receive.

The newspaper's or magazine's Web site and editorial page should have contact information and guidelines for how to submit a letter. The New York Times' letters editor has written a tip sheet for ways to make your letter more publishable, offering advice that applies to most publications. In general, keep your letter short, include your full contact information, submit it soon after the original article-ideally within 24 hours-and make one point, clearly and with conviction.

Sample Letter to the Editor

This letter was published in Philadelphia Inquirer to raise awareness of the importance of medical research.

"Don lab coats" (October 31, 2013) By visiting a University of Pennsylvania research facility last week, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) underscored his commitment to making research and innovation an immutable national priority ("Scientists reeling from budget cuts," Oct. 24). Adequately supported, research will allow us to overcome major health threats and drive the economy.

Americans have taken notice that research support is waning and, in addition, say they are concerned that officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to deadly diseases, polling done for our nonprofit advocacy alliance, Research!America, shows. If elected officials aren't paying attention, who will lead the charge to assure robust funding for research now and in the future? Too many lives hang in the balance if we take medical progress for granted. Cures and treatments for deadly and disabling diseases can't wait out nine more years of sequestration.

Mary Woolley

President and CEO, Research!America

Alexandria, Virginia