The majority of respondents receive the update electronically; 70% percent have been receiving the update for more than a year. Researchers, consultants and NGO workers made up the majority of respondents – researchers and consultants were overrepresented in the survey whereas NGO workers were underrepresented. The North – South response ratio was around 60:40 representing an increase in responses from the South relative to the 2002 and survey and under representation of the North relative to the subscriber group. The overrepresentation of academics means that overall results should be viewed with care in terms of interpreting the wishes of our broader readership. The overrepresentation of every developing region except for East Asia & Pacific means that our analysis should better match the interests of developing country readers. With a 3.6% response rate for electronic surveys versus about 1% for paper surveys, future survey efforts can probably safely go online only.
Around 80% of respondents want to receive the Update electronically and there was significant demand, especially from NGO workers, for the Update in PDF format, indicating that BWP should move in the medium-term to provide the Update in this format by email. In the meantime, we should provide a clear link to the PDF at the top of each email. Unsurprisingly the Spanish version went down well in Latin America and respondents were quite happy (80% to 90% approval) with the level of detail, tone and frequency of the Update and with the length of the articles. There was a symmetrical split among the respondents over whether BWP should report on new IFI news immediately or wait longer and produce higher quality research. This suggests that our strategic decision to balance Update production with a medium level of between-Update articles is justified by our readers’ demands.
At Issue and Inside the Institutions performed well among respondents. Comment and cover illustrations performed less well with the latter causing a wider split in opinion. Staff serving more of an editing role for the Comments and increasing suggestions for the At Issue authors is called for. Similarly having a selection of Comment pieces from which we can choose may help improve quality. Both suggestions require more advance planning, scheduling, and solicitation of contributions to allow time for editing and feedback to the authors.
On the whole respondents indicated reasonable regional coverage but scores fell, however, when respondents rated their own regions. The highest rated topic coverage was for Bank / Fund governance, the lowest was for private sector development. Relative to 2002, our coverage of social issues has not been well received, and coverage of the environment has elicited more mixed reviews. It is unclear what is driving these ratings The results indicate that we are filling the niche of covering the WB/IMF global policy and roles very well, but are not so successful at project-level or national-level coverage. It may be that we are happy to receive lower scores in areas that are not our focus or where we add little value, but we should perhaps work to improve our coverage of the environment and social issues as this is the lens we apply to critiquing the Bank and Fund according to our mission statement.
Links at the end of articles are highly valued among respondents and over 50% circulate the information to others. There was demand for more and better links across the board, indicating a need to include more links in the emails and perhaps to improve our ability to link to long URLs. It was suggested that we had more links specifically to other CSOs/NGOs, including ones not specifically mentioned in the articles, which work on the topic/issue at a local level. We felt that the costs in time and research to identify appropriate local groups who may not even have web sites would not yield enough benefits to be worthwhile. Additionally, the addition of photos was a repeated request. Due to space and cost constraints that would not be effective for the print edition, but we considered more carefully whether relevant and value-adding photos could be used with the web versions of some articles. In the end we felt that devoting scarce staff resources to sourcing photos would necessitate cutting back other elements of our work programme and thus would not be valuable use of our time.
While there was little awareness of the newswire, a large number of respondents were interested in receiving a news service via email. The majority of them wished to receive it on a weekly basis and we should plan for introducing such a service along with reform of our communications work in the next year.
Around 19% of respondents showed a willingness to pay for the Update indicating potential revenue of £1,060 from survey respondents alone. Scaling up this response to the entire subscriber pool indicates a maximum revenue possibility of £45,073, with the large caveat of bias as the survey respondents are likely to be more interested readers. We should continue to press for our readers to contribute, but should ensure we manage the contribution process well so that readers feel they are getting value out of their contribution.