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Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(12):2188

In a recent column, I mentioned the names of a few of AFP's staff whose dedication to the journal would otherwise go unknown but whose contributions and talents have shaped and driven the journal over the years. These people have devoted their professional lives to bolstering the field of family medicine with the goal of improving the health and well-being of Americans and others. What is it that these people do, and why should you, as a reader of AFP, care? Well, we hope it will help you to know a little bit about us—the people who care so much about you. Although we don't work side-by-side with you, you might think of us as invisible partners, people who work in the spirit of helping family physicians deliver the best in clinical care to their patients. If you know who we are, then you might be more likely to keep in touch with us and let us know how we can help you.

Although AFP's medical editors lay the groundwork for editorial content for the journal and help guide authors through the peer review process, it is AFP's professional staff editors who usher manuscripts through the publication process, transforming the roughly hewn manuscripts (“sow's ears,” we call them) into beautiful pages (“silk purses”). The sow's ear–silk purse metaphor describes the true editorial spirit of the journal and, in fact, is part of AFP's heritage. I believe it was John Rose, M.D., the longtime editor of AFP who preceeded current editor Jay Siwek, M.D., who chose this particular metaphor to describe AFP's editorial process. Dr. Rose might smile to learn that Dr. Siwek has chosen to carry on the nomenclature and recently even rewarded the professional staff editors with the highest (dubious) honor: a real sow's ear and silk purse framed along with these words,“To the editorial staff of AFP for editorial excellence and your uncanny knack for turning one of these (sow's ear) into one of these (silk purse)—with grateful appreciation, Jay Siwek, M.D., July 2002.”

We wouldn't be able to accept this award had not so many of our senior editors actually graduated from the Silk Purse School of Editing—the tough apprenticeship under one of our previous managing editors, whom we fondly call Mary “Knick” (short for Knickerbocker Parrish). Under Mary's mentoring, Linnea Korinek and Verna Rose (senior editors), Barrett Schroeder (senior manuscript editor), and I learned the art and science of medical editing and honed our skills as wordsmiths, and many years later we're still striving for silk purses.

Far from being a simple job of wordsmithing, however, publishing a large medical journal is a complicated craft and requires many other skills. In addition to intensive wordsmithing duties, Linnea Korinek plans the article lineups, supervises manuscript editors and copy editors, and still finds time to conduct workshops with authors. Verna Rose oversees AFP's news departments and also supervises manuscript editors and copy editors. Both senior editors have been part of the editorial staff for more than 15 years and have contributed immeasurably to the quality of AFP. Barrett Schroeder has edited manuscripts for AFP more than 10 years of her life and has completed more manuscripts than any other single editor on staff. Through mentoring and by example, these editors have passed along the silk purse tradition to the other editors on staff.

Now that you know a little about us, I'm hoping you will feel free to let us know how we're doing and what we can do for you. You can send comments to us in care of AFP's mailbox (

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Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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