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  • Deborah Levine, MD: 2005 Eyler Editorial Fellow

  • This fellowship was a wonderful opportunity, and I highly recommend it to radiologists interested in medical journalism. As academic careers get busier, it is increasingly difficult to take time to pursue an interest that is slightly peripheral to the standard career path. This fellowship allowed for a break in the normal routine and the protected time to experience what it is like to be an editor of a preeminent medical journal.

    My visit to the Richmond, Virginia, office of Radiology headquarters was clearly the highlight of the fellowship. Working with Dr. Proto was wonderful! His attention to detail is laudable. I came to the editorial fellowship with the understanding that Radiology has high standards, and that quality is an important aspect of everything that is published. What I didn’t realize was the amount of the editor’s time that goes into the publication of every manuscript. The editor spends time not just reading the reviews and the article, but also making specific suggestions for improving the manuscript, reviewing the manuscript again once it is resubmitted, and reviewing it again once the image proofs are available. This quality comes at the price of the authors’ time for revisions and the editor’s time to attend to detail. Dr. Proto made it clear to me that it is the editor’s individual decision to spend this time, but the excellence of the finished product speaks for the benefit of that extra effort.

    One important and interesting topic that came up repeatedly was ethics. Both Dr. Proto and Dr. Olmsted openly shared with me the ethical issues that arose during my stay: Authors may not agree with the decision made by an editor, authors are often frustrated when their manuscript is rejected, or when there are delays in publication, and responses to reviewers’ and editors’ comments can be misinterpreted and taken out of context. I was shown examples of recent emails from the editors, which politely and thoroughly addressed the authors’ concerns. These emails demonstrated that the editor took the time to review the issue and to ensure that the author was treated fairly. I was impressed with both the measured approach that the editors take to these issues and the respect both of these editors showed the authors and the reviewers in this process.

    I also spent a day at the Cadmus facility in Richmond, Virginia, where I witnessed the actual printing of journals. Seeing the presses during the printing process was a truly unique experience. This gave me an appreciation for the work that goes into formatting the pages for printing, and the issues involved in printing images of high quality.

    In the Oak Brook, Illinois, office of the RSNA Publications Department, I had a whirlwind tour of the production process. The time line was carefully explained to me. The many layers of editing, and the time it takes to ensure that manuscripts are of the best quality prior to print were described.

    At the RadioGraphics office I spent time with Dr. Olmsted discussing the differences between the Radiology and RadioGraphics processes. RadioGraphics is different because the publication cycle is keyed to the RSNA annual meeting. Dr. Olmsted also discussed with me the RSNA Education Portal. As Maintenance of Certification and Self-assessment Modules become more important for radiologists requiring recertification, I can see this Web site becoming increasingly important.

    What impressed me most about this fellowship was the respect that everyone involved, from the editor to the support staff, have for their co-workers, for the readers, for the authors, and for the reviewers. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to spend time with the Radiology and RadioGraphics staff. I will be able to use the knowledge I gained in my future writing, reviewing, mentoring, and editing.
     

    Deborah Levine, MD Associate Professor of Radiology Director, Obstetric & Gynecologic Ultrasound Co-Chief, Ultrasound Associate Chief, Academic Affairs Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center