Quaternary Newsletter – Membership consultation on electronic distribution
The QRA recently asked members’ opinions regarding a move to an electronic distribution of Quaternary Newsletter. The proposal is outlined in full in a previous post on this website, and in QN. The rationale for this move was largely financial, with printing and distribution of QN being a large part of the QRA’s annual outgoings. Electronic distribution of QN would also allow longer-format articles, colour printing and ease of access to archived issues.
The QRA Exec therefore petitioned members to participate in a Members’ Consultation. The chief methods involved an electronic survey via Survey Monkey and solicitation of emails and letters sent directly to Secretary and President of the QRA. The details of the consultation were announced in the QRA Circular, in QRA mailshot emails and on the QRA website; the results were compiled by Bethan Davies (QRA Publicity Officer).
Brief summary of responses
The online survey received 231 responses; an additional 14 email/letter responses were received by Peter and Mick. This issue is something that has clearly galvanised and enthused the QRA membership.
Overall, the responses were overwhelmingly (84.4%) in favour of moving to an electronic distribution of QN. Some of the membership, however, enjoy reading a physical copy of QN and see this as a key benefit of their membership. A small minority even threatened to withdraw their membership if they were no longer to receive a hard copy of QN. However, most (70.5%) of those who would prefer a hard copy would be prepared to pay a small additional opt-in surcharge (£5 to £10 seems a common figure that people would be prepared to pay).
With regard to the distribution of an electronic version of QN, 68.7% would prefer it to be fully open access, and 31.3% would prefer it to be restricted access (i.e. restricted to a Members' Area of the website). Common concerns include:
- Seeing QN as a key benefit of membership to the QRA; making QN open access will negate this benefit and may lead to a drop in subscriptions;
- Reports for recipients of QRA awards being released publicly ahead of full peer-reviewed publication.
Many members suggested making back issues of QN publically accessible one year after publication to circumvent these issues.
Some members were also concerned that they would not read QN if they had to navigate through to the Members’ Area of the website to obtain it. They would prefer to be emailed a PDF attachment of the newsletter (or for it to be fully open access).
In terms of the funds released by electronic distribution of QN, most members were happy for the funds to be used at the discretion of the committee, or to support awards and in particular postgraduate activities.
The survey responses are detailed below for Members’ information.
The following data take into account both the online and the emailed/written responses.
Bethan Davies, Publicity Officer