Emma Fenton
21 May 2012

Future direction of the environmental SCIENTIST

Members were almost equally divided with 49.7% believing that restricted access is the correct thing to do, and 50.3% believing that it is not.

In a recent survey Members showed they were split over the whether the IES should make its journal open access and whether we should publish a tablet version.

In April the IES sent a survey to all its members to find out how they access scientific information and to evaluate their opinions on open access journals. As part of the survey, members were asked about the IES journal - the environmental SCIENTIST - and the results from these questions are the focus of this article.

We asked members three questions in relation to the environmental SCIENTIST:

  • Do you value having a paper copy of the environmental SCIENTIST?
  • Would you value a tablet version of the environmental SCIENTIST?
  • Currently the IES restricts access to the most recent version of the journal to its members only, do you think this is the correct thing to do?

Of the 226 members who took part in the survey, the majority (60%) said that they do value a paper copy of the environmental SCIENTIST, so the Project Office will continue to distribute these as the journal is published. We will, however, be adding the ability for our members to opt in to receiving an electronic version instead of a paper copy through the soon-to-be-launched membership management area of the website.

When asked about the tablet version, members were more evenly split, with a small majority (37%) 'indifferent' to a tablet version and those who 'would' or 'would not' value a tablet version at 32% and 31% respectively. Numbers in favour of a tablet version are likely to grow as tablet pc technology achieves greater market penetration. However, as this is an issue where members do not feel particularly strongly at this time, the Project Office will be developing a tablet version, but not as a priority project.

When it came to the question of restricting access to the most recent edition of the journal, members were almost equally divided with 49.7% believing that restricted access is the correct thing to do, and 50.3% believing that it is not the correct thing to do. For those that believe restricting access is not the correct thing to do, the reasons centred on the belief that information should be made freely available straight away so that scientific progress is not impeded. Whereas, those who gave reasons why restricting access is the correct thing to do tended to fall into two brackets: 1) those who believe that restricted access is a benefit of membership; and 2) those who believe that, because the environmental SCIENTIST does not contain primary research, the effects of restricting access for a given amount of time (suggestions ranged from one month to one year) are minimal.

As there was no consensus surrounding restricted access, the Project Office will continue its current practice of making the most recent edition of the environmental SCIENTIST freely available online two months after it is initially published.

The full results from the survey will be on the website soon.