How Research Brings Members Together: Insights From Our Annual Member Survey

January 23, 2018 Samantha Green

Access to content is one of the cornerstones of society membership. Whether it is a suite of peer reviewed journals, or a member newsletter, content helps members develop a shared body of knowledge.

Shared knowledge, which allows members to be on the cutting edge and stay informed, is one of the most common reasons for engaging with research. In our 3rd annual Society Member Survey, we dig deeper into the question of content: why is it important and how do members want to receive it?


The people who respond to our survey engage with research for a variety of reasons, but the most common all have to do with being part of a learning community.

79% want to engage with research to learn new things, including those that could effect change. 63% want to be an active part of the community in their chosen fields, and 61% want to be informed when communicating with colleagues. The ability to access content is therefore essential for members to feel involved and engaged with their communities.

Society members engage with research more frequently than non-members. Members read or otherwise engage with content 15 times per month, compared to just 11 times for those who aren’t currently society members.

Our survey shows that content is important; it matters deeply to society members. To make sure that members are happy, easy access to content is essential.

When we consider access, we need to explore content format and delivery. A variety of formats, from research articles to newsletters and magazines, can attract members with different needs and different amounts of time to engage with research. Members also expressed different levels of interest for delivery methods ranging from electronic to print.

In terms of format, the research journal is the most important type of content to members. 91% indicated that the journal was important or very important to them. Other types of publications were less important, like newsletters (64%) and magazines (49%).

However, these informal publications can still be important, depending on where members and potential members are based. Not only do members who are earlier in their careers value informal publications more than older generations, but members from India and many African nations are more interested in these types of publications.

The desire for different delivery methods also varies. The vast majority, 92%, want access to digital PDFs of research journal articles. Equally important is an online journal, which 88% indicated was very important. Electronic delivery is, on the whole, the most desirable method of delivery for society members.

Members who are earlier in their careers and those who read research daily are more likely to prefer electronic delivery of their society content as well.

Personalized delivery is also something members want from their societies. As part of a community, members like to feel that their society knows them and knows what they want.

Sometimes, that means the latest content, research rounds ups and electronic table-of-contents emails can be very impactful for members. Other times, it might mean creating opportunities for discussion around content on social media and at conferences.

Members already use their mastery of content and deep knowledge of their chosen fields to build communities. Facilitating more connections around content and greater access to content through diverse channels opened up by technologies reinforces the connections between members and your journals.

For more from our 3rd annual Society Member Survey, visit our Member Resources site here.

Image Credit: Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

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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