I have always been interested in journalism, education and the power of the written word. Over years in academic Radiology, I became interested in the workings of the great Radiology journals, including Radiology and RadioGraphics, journals that are key factors in world-wide radiologist education and information exchange and that serve as central elements to progress within the specialty and beyond. The RSNA publications' mission of uniformity, clarity and accuracy has also been my own writing goal. As an editor of the American College of Radiology's Syllabus series, I had an immediate need for general and specific information and advice on editing (including electronic editing through the Internet), manuscript review, image production and methods of work scheduling, which I hoped to gain from leaders in the field. I hoped to move my skills to a higher level.
I certainly learned a lot during the fellowship. I accomplished what I desired but know it is a continuing process. I believe I have linked to a group of people that includes the staffs of Radiology and RadioGraphics—headed by Drs Anthony Proto and William Olmsted, respectively—as well as the publications staff at the RSNA offices in Oak Brook, Illinois, and past editorial fellows.
I met a large group of highly skilled individuals who lovingly perform the intricate task of producing on a monthly or bimonthly basis outstanding scientific and educational works from the vast materials produced by the national and international radiologic communities. As a fellow, particularly in the 2 weeks at Radiology's Richmond, Virginia, offices (in a restored early 1910s office building used in the filming of HBO's Iron Jawed Angels), one learns by seeing and doing. Most authors are unaware of the tremendous number of details that make up the review and editorial process, which includes an ever present need for fairness, impartiality and proper ethical conduct by editors, reviewers and authors themselves. Much of the scientific material is enhanced by the review process efforts, including insightful comments of many volunteer expert reviewers. The responsibility of putting it all together is in the hands of the editor-in-chief, who is aided by various deputy and associate editors and experts in statistics. The fellow gets to see and hear Solomonesque or perhaps Prototypical decisions made when there are differences of opinion among reviewer, authors and editors. The fellow gets to see all the processes of the office and gets to participate in many of them him- or herself, from reviewer choices (dependent on specialty or other interest and review quality and speed track record) to manuscript review (for acceptance, rejection, acceptance with recommended revisions, or other categorizations) to review of revised manuscripts (with the need to confirm that all editor or reviewer concerns have been properly dealt with) to final review (as a last step to make sure the final article will be correct, with all images readable and understandable and with all the paper's i's dotted and t's crossed). It is impressive to see everyone's efforts to "do the right thing" for authors and readers alike. It is wonderful to be part of the process. One gains a deeper understanding of one's own writing and editing. One also gains an understanding of how to advise and mentor junior attending staff, fellows, and residents on scientific writing.
The Richmond, Virginia, experience includes a day spent at the Cadmus Communications printing plant, which is also located in Richmond and where the entire printing process can be viewed. You get to spend time in the work areas of the printing plant. If you liked class trips when you went to school, you will love the day at the Cadmus plant.
During 2 days spent in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr Olmsted reviews the workings of RadioGraphics and its educational mission, as well as RSNA educational materials, which are part of his RSNA charge. His enthusiasm is infectious.
During three days spent in Oak Brook, Illinois, at RSNA headquarters, some of the more global aspects of publication are reviewed. Time is spent with editors, image specialists, individuals in charge of scheduling (since, for example, the staff of Radiology are working on 3 different issues of the journal in various forms of completion at any given time), experts in RSNA's Internet efforts including those for Radiology and RadioGraphics, and experts in marketing and sales.
One aside: When the Oak Brook office says to take a local taxi or limousine service rather than an airport taxi they are right, since the airport taxis are allowed to place a surcharge on trips to Oak Brook. I did not understand this before I went. Now I do.
In summary, the people one meets are knowledgeable and universally nice. One gets to see pros at work. One gets to be an apprentice editor for 2 weeks. In addition, one gets fed quite often. What more could one ask for?