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The Executive Committee is extremely grateful to members for responding so enthusiastically to the consultation exercise held earlier this year about the future distribution model for Quaternary Newsletter (QN). Almost 20 % of the total membership (excluding institutional members) made their views known, either via the online questionnaire or personally to the President and Secretary. A separate report (compiled by the Publicity Officer) detailing the results of the consultation has already been posted to this blog.
The implications of the consultation exercise were discussed at length by the Executive Committee at their meeting in May 2016. Whilst it was abundantly clear that QN is highly valued by the membership, the steer towards an electronic distribution model was unmistakable. Nevertheless, the Exec did not wish to deny those members for whom a hard copy version was important and so agreed the following:
- QN will be available routinely to members as an electronic copy from 2017.
- Downloadable copies will be made available in the Members’ Area of the website, embargoed for one year, after which they will be made freely available on a publically accessible page.
- Members will be notified of the availability of new issues via email (which will include a table of contents). Access to the new issue will be either via a direct link contained within the notification email, or by logging in separately to the Members’ Area.
- Those members still wishing to receive a hard copy will still be able to do so, subject to payment of a subscription surcharge, levied to contribute towards printing and postage costs. The surcharge will initially be set at £10 per annum across all levels of membership, but will be reviewed annually.
- The Circular will also be made available electronically, but from a public part of the website so that QRA news and forthcoming activities can be advertised widely. The notification email for QN will also include a link to the Circular.
- The October 2016 issues of QN and the Circular will be distributed to members via post (as normal) and will also be made available electronically.
- Funds saved from printing and postage will not be allocated for a specific purpose, although the Executive Committee envisage that most monies will be utilized to increase the level of support available to members (and particularly student members) through our awards schemes.
In order for these changes to be actioned, several changes to the website have been put in hand; these will become apparent over the next few weeks. The Executive Committee also intends to make the entire run of back issues of QN available for download. This will occur in phases, as copyright / IPR matters have to be dealt with before issues can be posted online.
Although the demise of a routinely printed copy of QN is regrettable, it is hoped that the transfer to an electronic version will not only improve the quality and reach of articles, but also enable increased support across the Association’s many activities. We thank the membership once again for their input to this consultation and hope that this new model of receiving Quaternary Newsletter will become second nature very quickly.
QRA Executive Committee
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