Our most recent research shows that half of AFP's readers may not know that they have full access to the journal online. They may not know that it's available at a price that can't be beat—it's still free of charge. AFP online is such a good deal that I've been writing about it since the first time I wrote an “Inside AFP,” more than five years ago. Beginning with the October 1, 1997 issue of the journal, the full text of articles has been made available online. Access is easy and simple—just find the AFP site and GO. Today over five years' worth of articles and features have accumulated on the Web site, and you can search through these archives for topics of interest (69 percent of AFP's online readers report that they take advantage of the search engine). If browsing is more your style, you are like 57 percent of readers, who report that they use AFP online to explore issue by issue.
Even though AFP is one of the major attractions at the Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians, some of our readers have still never visited AFP online, and we invite you to try AFP online atwww.aafp.org/afp. While you are at the AFP home page, you might want to sign up for the e-mail table of contents. It's also free of charge and will let you know what articles are coming out in the next issue. If you're in a hurry to review the update before your print journal arrives, you can click on the link and go straight to the article. If you want to print out a copy of the article (and 68 percent of readers do), you can access the PDF version that's available online.
If you are hunting for a patient information handout, you'll want to keep in mind that AFP's handouts are available in the online archives but are not updated there on a routine basis. However, many of AFP's patient information handouts are published and updated regularly on the AAFP's consumer-oriented Web site, atwww.familydoctor.org.
For readers who like to take advantage of AFP's CME—and why not earn free CME?—the online “Clinical Quiz” may be the best online feature. Taking the quiz online will also save you the cost of a postage stamp.
If all of this sounds good to you, but you still prefer your printed copy, don't worry. We're not making plans to stop publishing print copies of AFP. We, too, still love glossy printed pages with beautifully laid out figures, tables, and illustrations. The online version is not meant to supplant the print version. A downside of online publishing is that occasionally AFP contains material copyrighted by other publishing companies, and not every publishing company grants rights for use of their materials online. You will find an occasional omission of figures or tables online, but we purchase the rights to republish materials online whenever possible. Other downsides to online publishing involve technologic and aesthetic challenges, and the overall inexperience of publishers in dealing with relatively new electronic media.
Our goals at AFP are to offer as many of the sleek bells and whistles as will please a high-end online reader while still offering a good overall value for the average online reader. If you have suggestions for AFP online, we'd love to hear from you (send an e-mail to email@example.com).