February 2003 Bulletin

"Grassroots" approach works for Monograph series

By Carolyn Rogers

Approaching its 12th year in publication, the Academy’s popular Monograph Series is more relevant and responsive to members’ needs than ever.

First introduced in 1991, the AAOS monographs are portable, practical, in-depth treatments of a single topic by a small number of authors. Monographs are published two or three times a year and provide members with a quick, cost-effective way to "bone up" on a particular topic.

"Grassroots" efforts

While the monographs have always been popular with members, "In the early years, we didn’t have an overall vision of a curriculum for the Monograph Series," says Lynne Shindoll, managing editor in the AAOS publications department. "Topics really depended on who was writing the monograph. Now, after almost 12 years, we know how the membership uses the monographs and we’ve developed a new, more ‘grassroots’ approach to selecting topics."

Publications Committee member Thomas R. Johnson, MD, suggested the new strategy. "As the committee’s liaison to the Monograph Series, Dr. Johnson’s job is to keep the series moving ahead," Shindoll says. "And he’s been extremely innovative in his approach."

So how do they determine what’s "hot"? In part, by pounding the pavement at Annual Meeting.

Keeping an "ear to the ground"

For the past three years, Shindoll and Dr. Johnson have made the rounds at Annual Meeting, talking to doctors, sitting in on instructional courses and keeping an "ear to the ground" to determine which topics will be of most concern to orthopaedic surgeons in the coming years.

Observing instructional courses can be especially helpful in this regard, Shindoll says, but with 175 courses scheduled over five days, they can’t hit them all. So they do their homework in advance and select courses based on enrollment numbers and previous course evaluations.

At each course they attend, they take note of attendance levels, pay attention to the types of questions being asked by participants, observe the skill level of the instructor and try to get an overall sense of the level of interest and excitement about a given topic.

"It’s really a populist way of doing things," Shindoll says.

Developing "up-and-coming" authors

Once a "hot" topic has been selected, the next step is to select an appropriate editor. A typical monograph has one editor, and three to five authors. Occasionally, an instructional course presenter will be invited to be editor; other times Dr. Johnson may have someone else in mind.

Judging from past editors, writing an AAOS monograph can be very good for your career, Shindoll says.

"Writing a monograph is a wonderful opportunity for someone who’d like to write a book, but not a ‘big’ book," she says. "Actually, one of the publication department’s overall goals, and with the Monograph Series in particular, is to try to develop authors who are ‘up and coming.’ Normally, people are thrilled to do it."

One of those "up-and-coming" authors is Robert C. Schenck, Jr., MD, who wrote the recently released monograph, Multiple Ligamentous Injuries of the Knee in the Athlete.

"I really like publishing with the AAOS," Dr. Schenck says. "They respond so quickly to topics, and they’re very good about knowing the constraints on an orthopaedic surgeon’s time. They’re very responsive to editorial work and getting the chapters done."

Dr. Schenck first worked with the Academy on the 925-page third edition of Athletic Training in Sports Medicine. "That was a huge undertaking," he says. "It took two years, and a lot of investment from the AAOS, but we got it done. After we finished that, I guess they decided they could trust me to do a monograph!"

Dr. Schenck has treated knee dislocations for more than 12 years, and he’s always been fascinated by the topic, so he’s "extremely elated and proud" of this 113-page monograph. "I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years, so we were able to get a great faculty together to write it… It’s a really neat book."

The topic was ideal for a monograph, Dr. Schenck says. "Knee dislocation can be very complex and difficult to treat, and it’s being diagnosed more often due to increased motor vehicle accident trauma. So it’s nice to have a quick, readable reference that can provide you with the most current approach to that specific problem."

"This topic is very much on people’s radar screens right now," Shindoll adds. "We put it on the schedule 18 months before the manuscript came in, and the timing was exactly right. It’s a hot topic."

Quick turnaround keeps content current

Another advantage to the Monograph Series is its quick turnaround time. While full-length books can take two to three years from start to finish, monographs are much faster, Shindoll says. "We schedule them far in advance, but the actual literature search, writing, etc., is done about six months prior to publication, so the information is as current as possible."


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