Are Society Members Satisfied?

August 25, 2017 Samantha Green

Members are at the heart of scientific and scholarly societies. Understanding their needs, knowing how they want to engage, and providing the services they want are essential ingredients for the continued success of member organizations. This desire to understand society members is what drives the Wiley Society Membership survey. Now in its third year, it remains the largest survey of its kind in the research community, attracting an average of more than twelve thousand respondents each year.


We’re excited to be able to share some of the high-level takeaways from this year’s survey now.

Let’s start with satisfaction. Are members of the research community satisfied with what societies offer?

In large part, yes.

In this year’s survey, 76% of society members said that were satisfied or very satisfied with their membership experience. This figure is up 2% from last year, and the percentage of those who are very satisfied is up 3% (from 17% to 20%).

The percentage of satisfied members is powerful confirmation that societies continue to be a cornerstone of the research community.

We also asked members how likely they would be to recommend that their colleagues join a society. We know the research community is built on strong networks and professional relationships, making peer recommendation a large part of how trusted information and advice is shared.

44% of members were extremely likely to recommend that their colleagues join a society. In other words, these results mean that close to half of the research community are active promoters of society membership. An additional 35% were somewhat likely to recommend.

What factors contribute to member satisfaction, or the likelihood of an individual to recommend that a colleague join a society?

Respondents were more likely to recommend a society if they actively read the organization’s journals and engaged with them on social media. Further, those who said they didn’t actively read the journal, engage on social, or attend the conference aren’t likely to recommend joining a society. Given that two of the most common reasons for joining a society are to access quality research and to be part of a community—whether in person at a conference or online via a social media platform—this makes sense.

Each year, we’ve seen a rise in importance of social media for members. More are engaging with it, and more are commenting on a society’s social platforms each year. As the desire to be a part of a global research community rises, so too might the digital aspects of community that are more accessible regardless of location. In keeping with this, a couple of months ago we asked a few societies how they build communities on social media (read here).

As with last year’s survey, members value content, community, and career development opportunities. If they’re satisfied with career development opportunities, then they’re extremely likely to promote society membership. The same holds true for satisfaction with the global community a society provides, and better access to the latest content in their disciplines.

Looking at the satisfaction of society members, we start to see a picture of a thriving and highly engaged community. They value their societies and the role that associations play in their professional lives.

Societies must continue to meet the needs of current members while reaching out to non-members with an eye toward expansion.  This is what will help build a healthy and sustainable research community.

In the coming months, we’ll be producing a series of resources based on survey analysis that will provide you with deep insight into the current state of membership in the research community, and how it’s changed in recent years.

For an overview of last year’s survey results, click here, and check back in the coming months for deeper analysis of current and potential members’ needs, values, and goals.

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About the Author

Samantha Green

Society Marketing, Wiley // Samantha Green joined Wiley in 2012, working in the Social Science and Humanities Community Marketing team at Wiley. She now works in the Society Strategy & Marketing creating content on publishing trends and the research community.

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