One of my obvious duties as Senior Editor is to be aware of the content of The Journal. Often, however, aspiring contributors to the LETTERS section pay me an undeserved and equally unwanted compliment. They evidently believe that my powers of recall permit me instantly to recognize every reference to a previous publication, not only by author and subject matter but also by issue and page number.
Thus, I receive many letters that cite their inspiration in such terms merely as "the article by Dr. Doe" or "the paper on that new syndrome." Sometimes, a writer just barges into a subject and assumes that, halfway through the reading, I will tumble to the fact that the presentation relates to something in The Journal weeks or months before.
To consider a letter for publication, I must review it in the context of referenced material. Often, I am not inclined to search