February 2002 Bulletin

Collaboration makes JAAOS No. 1 journal

Subscriptions, ads at all-time high; members rate it highly

What does it take to create one issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS)? Just ask any one of the editorial/production staffers in the AAOS Publications Department or an editorial board member. What they’ll tell you is that it is a sweet collaborative effort to produce the most widely read and respected journal in the field of orthopaedics since 1993.

"Because the journal’s goal is to have fresh material relevant to specific orthopaedic topics, there are precise guidelines to move things through the editorial and production process," explains Alan M. Levine, MD, editor-in-chief. "It’s really a labor-intensive process."

The editorial process begins by first having the topic approved by one of six associate editors, explains Judith A. McKay, managing editor. "The article then goes out to three peer-reviewers in the appropriate subspecialty," she says. "When the reviewers send their evaluation, the material goes back to the associate editor, who evaluates the responses and identifies areas that he believes will increase the quality and usefulness of the manuscript. This first phase of the peer-review process takes about three months."

What’s unique about JAAOS, says Dr. Levine, is that the editorial review is seen as a collaborative effort with authors to achieve the best presentation of their material. "That’s verified by the fact that on a monthly basis we receive unsolicited letters from authors who say they thought the article was better at the end of the review process than when they submitted it," he says.

To achieve faster turn-around times, all production is done in-house. McKay forwards virtually all line drawings to Scott T. Barrows, the chief medical illustrator, to be redrawn. Other illustrative material—photographs, algorithms, tables and graphs—is recreated electronically by David R. Wiegand, assistant production manager.

2001 proved to be a banner year for JAAOS. Not only were subscriptions—now at 30,000—and advertising at an all-time high, but also last year’s JAAOS Readership Questionnaire demonstrated that the journal is meeting the needs of membership.

Survey results indicated that overall respondents rated JAAOS highly. Nearly all respondents rated the physical appearance, layout and quality of illustrations as either "excellent" or "good." Eighty percent or more responded positively when questioned about the length of the articles, usefulness of the subject matter, depth of reviews, balance of viewpoints and adequacy of coverage.

"Last fall was extremely positive for us because our survey showed our readership felt the JAAOS was suiting their needs," says Dr. Levine. "They believe JAAOS was extremely thorough and the articles were very relevant to their practice. But we’ve been able to do this well only because of a superb group of associate editors with expertise in a variety of topics, as well as a very dedicated corps of more than 200 reviewers who work with our authors to bring the very best material to the readers. I also give credit to our very first editor-in-chief, Dr. John Frymoyer; our former manager, Paul Psilos; and Judy McKay. The three really established the look and feel of the journal."

Future plans for JAAOS include a new feature—Advances in Therapeutics and Diagnostics. "The articles in this section are summaries of the indications for new drugs and new diagnostic techniques, their expected effects and any potential problems and pitfalls," Dr. Levine explains.

Dr. Levine says the "universal" appeal of the journal is a plus. "We really keep what we do fairly broad-based by supplying enough specific information on each topic that is useful to a wide range of people," he says.

And international growth has been a major goal. "Clearly, the AAOS has made a real effort as an institution to develop a reputation for being a major source of information on learning on an international scale," says Dr. Levine.

Through the efforts of the International Programs department staff, strong relationships have been established with international publishers. "We have selections of the journal published three times a year in Italy that go out to 3,000 orthopaedic surgeons," explains Lynne C. Dowling, director, international programs. "Starting in January 2002, every issue of JAAOS will be published in Spanish for Spain and Latin American markets. And we continue to look for opportunities to have the journal translated in other languages."

Currently, there’s a campaign to get members to access JAAOS on-line at www.jaaos.org since the survey indicated only 20 percent of members actually did. To this end, the home page is also being redesigned to make the web site "more navigable" for members.

"What’s great about our web site is subscribers have ‘immediate’ access to all journal issues dating back to volume 1, issue 1," says Dr. Levine. "So, even when members do not have access to their journals—say if they’re in surgery or at the office—through the search engine they can access any issue relevant to their needs."

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