Write a Letter to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor (LTE) in your local newspaper to share the local impact of science R&D funding.  Many thanks to www.sciencecoalition.org for providing LTE pointers.

What is a Letter to the Editor?

A Letter to the Editor is a short response to a recent article, and is often an easy way to get your opinions in print. You’ll be more successful getting your letter published if:

  • It is prompt. If you see an article relevant to research funding, respond right away.
  • It is related to something the publication recently covered. Draw that connection in your letter.
  • It is short. State your case succinctly and never exceed the publication’s word limit. If you have a lot to say, consider submitting an op-ed. (An op-ed should not be in direct response to an article, but must still have a relevant connection to news and current events, generally. Generally, you are allowed +/- 750 words for an op-ed.)
  • It follows the rules. Read and follow publication guidelines for submitting letters.
  • An excellent example by AAAS member Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D., published recently in the Hartford Courant in Connecticut.

Source: http://www.sciencecoalition.org/take_action

How to find the letter to the editor submission form:

Letters to the Editor are usually found in the Opinion section of the newspaper.  Online, you can usually find the online submission form or email address with the letters to the editor section, or, go to the “contact us” section.  In print, the address to mail at LTE can usually be found near the LTE in the opinion section.

Composing your letter:

Speak from a personal perspective and keep your comments non-partisan, courteous (ie, no ad-hominen attacks), and brief. And most importantly, show how your passion for science, hope for the future, and/or concerns tie back to your community.

Tailor your letter based on what is going on in your community, and what you’ve read in your newspaper . For example, have any of your members of congress spoken out against the budget?  Applaud them.  Have any of your members of Congress spoken out against science?  Point out how science benefits your community. 

Talking point suggestions for your letter (choose a few most relevant to your personal example):

  • The White House’s FY18 budget proposal starves scientific research and development and would hinder economic growth.  
  • The White House’s budget proposal is just that – a proposal.
  • Congress is responsible for appropriating funds, and it is essential that our members of Congress support scientific R&D.
    • I applaud [Member of Congress] for speaking out yesterday against the budget proposal
    • I remind [Member of Congress] that scientific research and federal funding saved his child, brought 100 jobs to the area, etc
  • Investments in R&D are essential to maintaining U.S. leadership in innovation.
  • Congress must continue its long history of bipartisan support for investments in basic and applied scientific research.
  • Scientific research benefits our community in the following way:
    • Impacts our economy – local jobs, industry
      • Reduced funding for federally funded research affects us here in [location] because our local economy is closely tied to [university/high-tech companies, other].
    • Helps our cancer center in our hospital
    • Helps protect our environment, like the local river/watershed/etc.
  • Past examples of R&D producing a return on investment :
    • It's hard to think of an important technological advancement since World War II, from the internet, GPS or MRI machines, that haven’t involved at least some form of federally supported research.
    • According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert M. Solow, science and technology have been responsible for more than half of all U.S. economic growth since World War II.
    • American physical and life sciences leadership has helped us better understand ourselves and our world, enabling us to improve and lengthen Americans’ lives, enhance public health, advance food safety and security, and enhance quality of life.
    • Environmental, agricultural and Earth sciences research has allowed state leaders and managers, business owners, and farmers to have access to the best available science for critical decision making that impacts our energy and transportation infrastructure, agriculture sector, and water resources management.
    • Defense research has improved the effectiveness of our armed forces and our awareness of growing threats around the world, and saved lives on the battlefield and once soldiers are home.
    • Social and behavioral science research has been critical to respond effectively to disasters; enhance intelligence analysis; understand decision-making and its impact on public health and business investments; improve international relations, and effectively educate the STEM workforce.
    • Math and computer science research has made the Internet economy possible and improved cybersecurity.
    • Material and engineering sciences have improved energy sources, space exploration, bridges and roads, and enabled countless technologies and products now essential to modern lives.

Next steps:

If your letter to the editor is published, please share it! 

  • Share the piece with friends, family, and colleagues
    • Offer to be a resource if they’re interested in doing something like this themselves in the future
  • Share it on your social media channels with #ScienceBudget
    • Tag @aaas on Twitter or Facebook
  • Post it as a status update on Trellis in the Force For Science group!