Many medical associations restrict online access to their journals to association members and paid subscribers. The AAFP has always bucked the trend, making the content of Family Practice Management and American Family Physician freely available to anyone. But the logic of limiting access to members and others who pay for the privilege has finally persuaded the Academy to limit access a little.
Starting in April, the most recent year's worth of online content for the two journals will be available only to AAFP members and those who pay to subscribe. This will leave the bulk of the FPM and AFP archives freely available, and about a year after publication, each issue will be added to that open archive. While members and subscribers will have to log in to access the restricted content, a “remember me” option will allow them to minimize the inconvenience by making login automatic after the first visit. The Academy hopes that having exclusive access to new content will outweigh the added inconvenience for members while the large and growing open archive will continue to be of service to others.
At the same time, FPM and AFP will begin to carry advertising on the journal Web sites. In accepting advertising, as in limiting access to some online journal content, the Academy will be doing what most other medical associations did years ago. Recognizing that online ads can be annoying, the AAFP held off for several years, but in today's economy it is irresponsible to ignore such a promising source of non-dues revenue. Still, the ads will appear only on content available in the open archive; the most recent year's worth of issues will continue to be ad free.
One more change is coming to the journal Web sites – and the AAFP Web site as a whole. In the next few weeks, aafp.org will have a new look. It is being redesigned with wider pages, less visual clutter, better navigation, and a look that is easy on the eyes. The Academy is undertaking the redesign as part of its efforts to establish a new brand for the AAFP, and it's coincidental that the change is coming more or less on top of the changes I've described above – and the changes in the print version of FPM that I explained last month. Still, I know that all these changes can be confusing. I hope this explanation and the one I provided in the February issue will help you keep them straight.