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Forum Survey Results

PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:10 pm
by Dave Jensen
Generally, it takes a week or two to get enough responses on an internet survey -- in this case, in less than 24 hours, we had enough significant information to make some determinations about the direction the commentary was going. Thanks to everyone who took part in the user survey. (If you didn't, and have a chance to make some comments about these topics, please email me directly).

Forum Value: 72% of our respondents indicated that they have received either "a good deal" of relevant advice from the forum, or a "significant amount" of relevant advice. 16% felt that they've had "occasional advice that is relevant." The remaining respondents offered individual comment on their satisfaction . . . lots of praise, and one or two posters indicating that they received no relevant info from the forum.

Where does the advice come from? Over 80% of the respondents indicated that they value the advice both from moderator, advisors, guest hosts, as well as the advice of other posters. It was clear that the combination of the moderator/advisors and the participants is what makes the forum unique.

The role of the moderator and advisors: The forum members universally regarded the moderator's role as one consisting of forum "clean up" from spam and inappropriate posts (commercial, etc) as well as providing advice where merited, and finally to "mitigate flame wars." There was some negative commentary from 3 people out of our group of 100 respondents about the moderator's desire to keep the forum free of salary discussion. On the topic of moderation, 84% of our readers believe that losing the occasional post is OK in order to keep the site clean, but that this should be done with discretion. Also -- the majority of respondents felt that we need to supplement the site's advisor list with some additional expertise.

[Comment: We are searching now for additional advisors. Any recommendations on specific people? Let us know via direct email to me. Regarding posts that are deleted . . . We now have a "deletion committee" to review the moderator's decisions about threads/posts that are deemed "inappropriate." This group consists of two very active forum members, an outside tenure-track academic with an interest in the forum, and an AAAS person]

Where do our forum members come from? Over 60% of them are in academia. Another 20% are in industry, with the balance split between non-profit research institutions, consulting companies, and "other."

What level are our readers in their careers? The biggest "group" was the postdoc contingent, at 38%. Another 10% were in "non tenure track positions" in academia. Two respondents were in tenure track roles in academia. 13% of respondents are in contributing roles in industry, less than 5% are hiring managers in industry.

Suggestions for improvements: This was a "text box" response and therefore difficult to capsulize. However, in a general sense, the big issues in the improvement area included better search functions (some people don't seem to realize that we already HAVE a search function), the development of a FAQ for new participants, and many, many comments about finding some way to eliminate the negative overall tone of some of the posts. With regards to the latter, there is no way to do this unless there is a division between the postdoc posters and the rest of the forum discussion. We don't believe this would be in the interest of the forum at this point -- so, our emphasis is to get posters to start coming back here with success stories to counterbalance the stories of woe.

Lastly, a text box was placed for those who wanted to pass along a comment directly to the moderator. Users were encouraged to speak openly and blast the moderator if there were serious issues, but the bulk of the comments were very nice, encouraging statements of support. We had a couple of comments there about the "salary discussion" needed on the forum, and one comment from someone who couldn't understand why a "career counselor or HR person" was the moderator. Outside of that last one, I was very impressed with the extent of the positive view of the forum and those who work with it daily.

Thank you for everything. Please be assured that we are working on many of the suggestions that were passed along and you'll see references to the survey again as we roll out improvements.

Best regards, Dave Jensen, Moderator