FPM Author's Guide

Getting in Touch with FPM

Here's the information you need to contact the editors of Family Practice Management about potential articles:

Telephone: 800-274-2237, ext. 5119
Fax: 913-906-6010
Mail: 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy. Leawood, KS 66211-2672
E-mail: fpmedit@aafp.org

FPM aims to give family physicians the tools they need to build rewarding practices and improve patient care. To accomplish that mission, we need articles written by progressive, insightful family physicians and others with pertinent expertise. We are eager to publish articles that can help family physicians in every area of practice except the strictly clinical, which is the purview of our sister journal, American Family Physician. For guidance on the kinds of topics we are looking for, see "What FPM Is About" below.

FPM publishes articles offering advice based on practical experience and on special knowledge or expertise. We don't normally publish formal review articles or research. While we prefer articles that reflect expert opinion or broad practice experience, we do occasionally publish first-person accounts or case studies when they are likely to have practical application for readers. The test of a manuscript we are considering will always be whether it is immediately useful to the family physicians who read FPM.

To get the best possible sense of what an FPM article is like, browse back issues of the journal. See FPM's Editorial Mission and Policies for more information. If you have an idea for an article, we would encourage you to contact us to make sure it suits FPM's needs and that we haven't recently accepted an article on the same topic (see "Getting in Touch With FPM").

In keeping with the informal approach of FPM, we encourage authors to use a reasonably informal, conversational writing style rather than "journalese." But don't worry too much about style. Our editors are experts at making articles as readable and accessible as possible.

Most FPM articles are written by family physicians, although we also welcome submissions from practice administrators, practice management consultants, health care attorneys, and other subject matter experts, as well as physicians in other specialties. Freelance writers are rarely used and work only on assignment.

What FPM is About

The following partial list of subjects we cover should give you an idea of how your article would fit within FPM: balancing practice and family; career options for family physicians; clinical guidelines; communication skills; computerization; cost-effective care; documentation and coding; employment issues; ethical practice; facilities and equipment; governmental reform; the health care marketplace; integration models; interspecialty issues; malpractice; managed care; negotiation and contracting; office management; optimizing patient relations; patient counseling; practice development; practice finance; practice sales and mergers; professional relations; quality improvement; regulations; reimbursement and collections; risk management; staffing; strategic planning; stress and change; third-party payers; time management.

Submitting a Manuscript

We welcome manuscripts submitted in virtually any form, although we prefer e-mail submissions. We can read and translate files created with most popular word-processing programs.

We try to keep FPM articles short -- say, 2,000 to 3,000 words at most. That's about eight to 12 pages, double-spaced. If your manuscript includes a number of illustrations, graphs or tables, try to keep the manuscript text even shorter to compensate for the space these elements take up. We are also happy to have very short articles -- in the neighborhood of 750 to 1,500 words -- especially on reimbursement issues, information technology and clinical quality improvement. Finally, we welcome 750-word contributions to our one-page "Last Word" department. These brief pieces may be thoughtful reflections on medicine or light humor.

Nine Points to Keep in Mind
  1. The goal of FPM is to give family physicians the tools and information they need to build rewarding practices and improve patient care.
  2. We're looking for articles that give advice based on the experience and expertise of family physicians, practice management consultants and others.
  3. If possible, talk with the editors before beginning work on a manuscript for FPM.
  4. Our articles are informal and conversational. We keep references to a minimum.
  5. We welcome manuscripts in any format, but we prefer electronic files.
  6. FPM articles should be no longer than 3,000 words ­-- shorter if they also include several graphs, tables or illustrations.
  7. We will ask you to give the AAFP copyright to your article if we publish it.
  8. FPM articles go through internal review, peer review and, if accepted, three editing stages. We ask authors to approve all substantive edits.
  9. We try to make the process easy, while helping you produce the best article you can.

Manuscript Accessories

If you have written for publication before, you know that the elements that need to accompany a manuscript can be almost as much of a challenge to assemble as the manuscript itself. Here's our list of things to keep in mind:

Contact information. Make sure the title page includes each author's name with highest academic degree and institutional affiliation, as well as contact information for the author responsible for correspondence about the manuscript. The more contact information you include, the better.

Credentials. With each article we publish, we include brief statements of the authors' current professional responsibilities. Please include no more than a sentence or two for each author.

References. Please keep references to a minimum. FPM is deliberately informal; it is a practical journal rather than a research journal. Supply references only when you quote from or refer directly to a publication or when you wish to support a statement that you believe readers are likely to question.

Graphs, tables and illustrations. We encourage authors to think about illustrations and graphic displays of data. Where we see the need, we are available to help authors create or refine graphs and artwork to illustrate articles we publish.

As a rule, we want tables, graphs and illustrations that build on information provided in the body of the article rather than duplicate it. They should be understandable on their own, not dependent on the article for explanation. If you supply illustrations, please include descriptive material that can be used in a caption. We're happy to have video or photos for publication, although we may decline to use those that are not sharp, well-lit, interesting or useful. Please include signed photo releases from the individuals depicted. (We can supply photo-release forms to use.)

On request, we will return original artwork and photographs submitted with manuscripts, although for manuscripts we accept we will normally need to hold onto these items until the article is published.

Copyright Assignment and Conflict of Interest Disclosure

If you incorporate previously published material into your article -- a table from another source, for instance -- please label it clearly with its source and add a prominent note saying "COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL; PERMISSION REQUIRED." We prefer to ask permission to reprint such material ourselves.

Before we make a decision about whether to accept your manuscript for publication, we will need you and your co-authors to complete a conflict of interest disclosure and a release form transferring copyright of the article to the AAFP. Both forms are included in a single PDF(7 page PDF). Please print and complete these forms and fax them to FPM at the same time you submit your manuscript (see "Getting in Touch with FPM").

Review and Editing

Our review process involves two steps. Each manuscript goes through an in-house review, during which the editors evaluate its suitability for FPM and its editability. Manuscripts that pass this review are then sent for peer review. We may reject a manuscript or ask the authors to revise it after either review stage, but we can formally accept manuscripts for publication only after they have made it through both stages. If no revisions are required, the process from submission to acceptance or rejection typically takes eight weeks.

If your manuscript is accepted, it will go through three editing stages: a substantive edit, a light "polishing" edit and a review for correctness. Some manuscripts are edited heavily in the first stage, and we sometimes ask authors to fill gaps in their presentation at that point. We will ask you to review and approve all substantive changes. Once the content is essentially final, we won't ask you to review subsequent versions of the article. Time from acceptance to publication varies, but you should expect it to take several months.

If you think you have an FPM article in you, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We will make the manuscript preparation process as painless as possible, and you will have a chance to be published in the practice management journal of the AAFP and to help more than 140,000 family physicians.