Wiley Survey Reveals DE&I and Sustainability as Top Priorities for New Society Members

Learned societies need to prioritize Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) and Sustainability to attract new members, according to a recent survey by Wiley. The global leader in research and education today shared four major findings from its 2022 Society Member Survey. In addition to identifying DE&I and Sustainability as top priorities, the survey revealed an eagerness to return to in-person events and a significant increase in the perceived value of society membership.  

This annual survey, which analyzes insights from more than 1,200 participants, evaluates membership trends for learned societies among academics in the research community. Using this survey’s findings, Wiley aims to better understand trends in society members, leading to better support for customers and data-driven solutions for the academic community.  

The survey uncovered the following four emerging trends in the research ecosystem:

1. DE&I is a driver of membership for learned societies. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents said that it was important for societies to take a lead in DE&I, including in the area of racial and ethnic representation. For instance, satisfaction with the representation of racial or ethnic groups in learned societies has fallen to 50% in 2022, as compared to 57% in 2021. Prospective and new society members scored the importance of societies taking an active role in DE&I significantly higher than members with over 30 years’ research experience, furthering the notion that DE&I values will become increasingly important to membership in the years to come. 

2. Newer members value Sustainability efforts. More than two-thirds (69%) believe that societies should prioritize Sustainability. This belief is especially prominent among students, early-career researchers, and those in developing countries. 

3. Society members still feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and are eager to return to pre-pandemic practices. The pandemic’s effects are long-lasting with 43 percent of respondents saying they’ve felt increased stress and anxiety that impacts their work and productivity. Members are also looking forward to returning to in-person conferences with over half (53%) reporting that they miss these opportunities. In the last 12 months, 32% of respondents attended an in-person conference compared to 19% reported in the 2021 survey. 

4. The perceived value of society membership among the research community continues to grow. This year, the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures willingness to recommend learned society membership, increased to 25, representing a 5-point increase from last year and double the rate in 2020. Society reviews are flourishing, which is promising to the research ecosystem as societies contribute thousands of academic papers each year that are critical to the community’s shared goal of advancing understanding in their respective fields. Being a part of a learned society has reportedly brought value to members in many ways, including access to journal content at no additional cost (82%), professional connections (79%), and support in career advancement (76%). 

“For hundreds of years, learned societies have played an essential role in driving the world forward by training professionals, disseminating knowledge and solving problems. As the world’s largest society publisher, Wiley is extremely proud of our partnerships around the globe and is committed to supporting societies as they deliver on the priorities set by current and future members,” said Jay Flynn, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Research.  

This survey was conducted by Broadview Analytics and included 1,255 respondents from the research community. A combination of analytical techniques was used in the analysis, including Factor Analysis, Regression Trees and Comparison Group Testing. The testing was conducted with 99% confidence. 

To learn more about the survey results, read more here: Society membership is more highly recommended than ever: Initial insights from the latest Wiley Society Survey