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Am Fam Physician. 2005;71(8):1459

Have you ever wondered how the editorial direction of American Family Physician is determined? There are several factors taken into consideration, including your feedback on the response cards in each issue and comments received on our Web site. The editors keep a finger on the pulse of the profession in these and other ways. For instance, AFP conducts editorial surveys twice each year. One survey, conducted in the fall, allows us to compare current results with previous years' and to compare AFP with other publications. We collect a variety of information, including demographics of readers, content preferences, readability scores, reading frequency, quality assessments, value scores of departments, and information on Web site usage. The other editorial survey, conducted in the spring, gives us an opportunity to explore reader preferences, to test new ideas, and to get reactions to changes made in the journal.

The “benchmark” survey conducted last fall tells us that AFP retains its preeminent position as the highest quality journal of several read by family physicians. While that makes us proud, it also challenges us to maintain that ranking. We read the results of the surveys with a critical eye, and then analyze them to help us set the direction of future content.

We use the details in the survey to determine what you want in your publication. For example, the most recent survey tells us which departments are most popular (the top four are “Clinical Quiz,” “Practice Guidelines,” “Photo Quiz,” and “Tips from Other Journals”). Conversely, the survey identifies those parts of the publication that are less widely read or valued. As we consider how we can make AFP as valuable as possible to the widest range of readers, we will carefully evaluate all portions of the journal and determine whether any should be discontinued. We recognize, of course, that some departments, while not widely read, may be of considerable interest to some segments of our readership, so we are not about to make wholesale changes in the editorial lineup.

Given our interest in making AFP useful to readers, we naturally are interested in whether readers are using the information provided in the journal. For example, last fall's survey shows that readers glean from each issue an average of almost three new ideas that can be used in their practices. Virtually all readers (99 percent) indicate that they get at least one good idea per issue. Considering the wide range of subjects AFP articles cover and the considerable variation in the clinical scope of family medicine from one practice to the next, this result is extremely encouraging. While these are positive numbers, we still consider them a challenge, and we ask ourselves what can be done to increase them.

Our surveys also ask how readers use AFP online ( Your comments on previous surveys led us to make recent alterations to ourWeb site,1 and we plan to continue enhancing the site with your input. We know we can never stop looking for ways to make AFP more useful to you—online and in print.

Even if you are not one of the randomly selected survey respondents, we appreciate all comments. Feel free to contact us ( any time to tell us what you like, what you dislike, and how we can improve. After all, AFP is your journal.

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Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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