Member survey: the results are in

We ran a survey in February asking 20 questions on how you viewed the BES and its activities. Here’s what you told us and how we’ll make use of that information in taking your Society forwards.

Who responded?

We received 764 responses from members, followers and those who receive our eBulletin newsletter – 636 from BES members and 128 from non-members. We’d like to thank all of you who gave your views. It’s been extremely helpful to us.

First, 72% of survey respondents rated the value of their membership as excellent or very good. And 83% said they’d be extremely likely or very likely to recommend the BES to a friend or colleague. That’s very reassuring, and it gives us something we can track over time to make sure BES membership continues to be worthwhile for the ecological community.

The value of membership

It was also really positive that members put ‘belonging to a global community of ecologists’ at the top, when asked to order reasons why they had joined the BES. That feeling of ‘belonging to a community’ is very important– and is perhaps something we can look to build on in what we do at the BES.

Support for science and careers came next in the list of reasons for joining the Society. Respondents said access to our grants, training & mentoring schemes and journals were important reasons for becoming a BES member. Discounts to our events was not far behind.

These findings echo a lot of the feedback we gathered from members at our Annual Meeting in Birmingham in December. One member from the Netherlands said of their membership, ‘This is where there is value. I could find the ecology elsewhere. It’s the support as a scientist that is important.’ A student member from the UK described the BES as, ‘An inclusive society, keeping me up to date and encouraging career progression.’

However, not everyone responding to the survey was aware of the full range of benefits that come with BES membership. A fair proportion were either not aware of, or did not use, several of the member benefits they were asked to rate. This was particularly true of free access to our journals and the discount available to members on open access fees.

Looking forward

We also asked what the Society should focus on most in the next 4-5 years, given that our current strategic plan comes to close at the end of 2019 and a new strategy is being put together to take the BES forward into the 2020s. Again it was core science activities that people ranked as most important. Respondents want the BES to focus on its publishing, grants and science conferences. Support for career development came next, followed by Special Interest Groups and engaging policymakers and the public.


Next steps

From these results, there are some next steps that we’ll be taking in the coming weeks and months. It is clear that we can do more to increase awareness and encourage uptake of all the benefits that come with membership of the BES.

We’d also like to emphasise some of the wider activities that we do as a Society, getting members more involved in our public engagement, policy and education work. There are plenty of opportunities for those who wish to take part, with support and training available from skilled BES staff.

Finally, your survey responses are being taken into account in the preparation of the BES’s new strategy. There will be more on the plan later in the year, but this is one significant way in which your voice is influencing the direction of the Society for the future. That strategy will provide the basis so that the BES works to support all ecologists, and continues to offer our members that real sense of belonging to a worldwide community.

‘This is where there is value. I could find the ecology elsewhere. It’s the support as a scientist that is important.’