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We try to make writing for FPM as easy and as rewarding as possible.

Fam Pract Manag. 1999;6(6):33-35

Note: This article is part of the FPM archives. For the most current instructions, see our official Authors Guide.

The AAFP launched Family Practice Management (FPM) in 1993 to help family physicians survive and thrive in today's constantly changing health care system. 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 topic we are looking for, see “What FPM is about.”

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.

What FPM is about

As the motto on the cover proclaims, FPM is in the business of giving family physicians the tools they need to make family practice work today. We aim to help energetic, proactive family physicians preserve and advance family medicine, improve quality of care and maintain control of their professional lives. The following partial list of subjects we cover should give you an idea of how your article would fit within FPM:

Balancing practice and familyOffice management
Career options for family physiciansOptimizing patient relations
Clinical guidelinesPatient counseling
Communication skillsPractice development
ComputerizationPractice finance
Cost-effective carePractice sales and mergers
Documentation and codingProfessional relations
Employment issuesQuality improvement
Ethical practiceRegulations
Facilities and equipmentReimbursement and collections
Governmental reformRisk management
The health care marketplaceStaffing
Integration modelsStrategic planning
Interspecialty issuesStress and change
MalpracticeThird-party payers
Managed careTime management
Negotiation and contracting

To get the best possible sense of what an FPM article is like, browse back issues of the journal, which may be available through your medical library and can be viewed online. We'll also be happy to send you a sample issue on request. If you have an idea for an article you think would be appropriate for FPM, 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. This may save you a lot of work.

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. What we need most from authors is knowledge, practical experience and insight.

Submitting a manuscript

While we encourage preliminary contacts and prefer having a chance to offer guidance in the process of article preparation, neither is a requirement. If you have a finished or nearly finished article, don't hesitate to submit it to FPM for review. We welcome manuscripts submitted in any electronic format, but preferably Microsoft Word.

We try (not always with success) 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 (and we're eager to get them), 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 300 to 1,000 words — for the regularly appearing FPM departments.

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 of the manuscript 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.

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 (for instance, “Dr. Smith is medical director of Pine Forest Family Practice Clinic, Pine Forest, Ky.”).

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 when preparing manuscripts. Our aim is to make FPM articles as easy to understand as possible, and if a graph is worth a thousand words, or even a hundred, we consider it worthwhile. Given the importance we ascribe to such aids to reading, it's only right that we stand ready to help. Where we see the need, we are available to help authors create or refine graphs and artwork to illustrate articles we publish. In fact, we may propose additional elements in the process of editing.  

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 color photos or slides for publication, although we may decline to use photos that are not sharp, well-lit and interesting. If you supply photographs of people, please include signed photo releases from the subjects. (We can supply photo-release forms to use.)

Copyright and related issues

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, since we need to use our own permission letter.

If we accept your manuscript for publication, we will send you two documents that you and any other authors of the article will need to complete. One is a release form transferring copyright of the article to the AAFP; the other is a conflict of interest disclosure. The former asks you to affirm that no portion of your manuscript has been previously published (other than borrowed material of the sort discussed in the previous paragraph) and that the manuscript is not being considered for publication elsewhere. The latter asks you to disclose any financial relationship you have with an entity that may have an interest in the subject matter of your article. A conflict does not, in itself, affect our acceptance of an article. From time to time we do publish articles by authors with conflicts of interest; in such cases we include a disclosure statement in the article. If you have concerns about copyright or about something that may represent a conflict of interest, please talk with me or one of the other editors.

Nine points to keep in mind


  1. The goal of FPM is to help family physicians cope with changes in the health care system.

  2. We're looking for articles that give advice based on the experience and expertise of family physicians and practice-management consultants.

  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 electronic format.

  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, editing and proofing 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.


Review and editing

When we first receive a manuscript submitted for publication, we send the corresponding author a brief acknowledgment of receipt and start the article through the review process, which 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 six to eight weeks.

If your manuscript is accepted, it will go through three editing stages at the hands of three different members of the FPM staff: 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 can vary depending on a multitude of factors, 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 family physicians across the country practice better.

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Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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