Have I commited a faux pas??


Hi all, a random message for my first post!

Yesterday I was reading a newly published article (an invited commentary) in one of the better journals in my field of research. I didn't like the tone of the article, which prescribed quite a paternalistic way of providing health care. I composed a 'letter to the editor' in reply, basically saying that our job is to provide evidence in an easily understood way, not prescribe certain behaviours, added a few references and sent it with me as the only author, feeling certain that I'd never hear again.
Well, they have only gone and accepted it! Which is great. However, I'm now freaking out that my supervisors are going to be upset that I did not put their names on it - should I have done? It is not related to my PhD work, or indeed any of the work that they do -do you think they are likely to be irritated, either that I did not discuss it with them, or add them as authors? Or pleased that it was published? Or not care either way?

Sorry to bend your ears, not sure whether I should celebrate or be worried! It was all a bit quick and rash on my part - very different from my usual agonising over each sentence!


Firstly - well done for getting the letter accepted!

It's definitely for the best that you didn't just stick your supervisors names on the submission - they might disagree with what you have written, and then you would be in a whole heap of trouble! Especially if they know the author of the original article/have published with them in the past etc.

Possibly you should have approached them first before you wrote it, but then they would probably have wanted to change/edit some of what you had written, and the letter would not necessarily say what you wanted it to.

As it is, there is a possibility they might be slightly miffed you didn't speak to them first, but as it's only a letter (ie. not a manuscript!) then I don't think you've done much wrong, particularly as it is not directly related to your PhD. It was your personal opinion, and you wanted to express it without anyone else's input. They may even admire your initiative! I think you should tell them pretty much what you put here - you made a rash decision to write to the journal, never expected it to be accepted, but now it has and you wanted to let them know.

I can see why you're nervous about telling them as I would be too, but you'll probably find they don't think it's that big a deal.


Thank you for the advice Smoobles!

A carefully crafted email later and all three (supervisory boards, never easy to manage!) seem fine with it - none have actually congratulated me, and one -justifiably- suggested that I always get a critical reviewer to read through something prior to submission, but I do not seem to be off the Christmas card list just yet!



I once committed a terrible faux pas by farting in a lift and then apologising for it. The correct thing to do is to keep looking at your feet until you exit.