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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

7.2.2 Target populations

Email survey

The first survey was undertaken using readers of the e-journal Psyche - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Consciousness. Psyche is an early e-journal that commenced before the arrival of the World Wide Web. It was originally delivered using email combined with an ftp (File Transfer Protocol) archive. Since the arrival of the Web, it has introduced some additional formatting of articles, together with a range of augmented services for its reader community.

This survey was trialled and administered in conjunction with a research project funded by the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee (AVCC) through the Standing Committee on Information Resources, Library infrastructure projects, Program 3 - Electronic Publishing of Full Text Materials. The author was a member of the EPICentre (Electronic Publishing Innovations Centre) project team together with Patrick Wilkens, the editor of Psyche, who provided access to the mailing list of subscribers for use in the survey.

The final form of the instrument was formatted to be delivered (and in most cases returned) by electronic mail. This meant that ASCII characters only were used for layout. The survey instrument as administered is attached to this thesis in the Appendices (see 11.1: Email survey instrument on page 187).

Print survey

The original study design also included the collection of comparative data from readers of print-based journals in the field of psychology. Unfortunately, there are no print journals with a directly comparable subject focus. After reviewing the results from the email survey, it was decided that the best way to survey a broadly equivalent population was to target members of psychological societies/associations in the three countries that accounted for nearly 75% of the email survey responses, and in the proportions from that survey. The rationale for this was that there might be significant differences by country. As well, the national societies were obvious survey distribution points. The societies chosen were the U.S. American Psychological Association (APA), the U.K. British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

The survey instrument used was almost identical to that for the email survey. The differences were in the formatting, the choices for one question, and the addition of an extra choice to one question.

Because the print survey was to be administered in print form, the facilities of a word-processor were used to improve the formatting without major changes to the layout. Providing the original ASCII-formatted survey instrument would have looked both amateurish and unattractive.

The choices for question four were changed slightly and the letter codes altered to reduce errors. In the email survey, about 5% of respondents had found it confusing that they were asked to select the letters A through E (with no mnemonic value) in question 4. These respondents typically wrote in R for Regularly (instead of B) or N for never (instead of E). Because it is impossible to determine if a respondent meant R to mean Regularly or Rarely, such answers had to be coded as incorrect. To try to avoid this problem in the print survey, the letters required in question four were changed to the first letter of each option, and Rarely changed to Seldom so as not to clash with Regularly. This change should not have affected the response pattern except by reducing incorrect answers.

An additional choice was also added to question 4. It was important to determine if the respondents to the print survey had ever viewed Psyche , and if so how often. This enabled later segmentation of the print survey respondents into two sub-populations if required.

The survey instrument as administered incorporating these changes is attached to this thesis in the Appendices (see see 11.2: Print survey instrument on page 189).

It should be noted that because of the time taken to process the email survey instrument and to arrange for the distribution of the print survey instrument, a year elapsed (roughly) between the administration of the email and print survey instruments. This needs to be borne in mind when considering the issue of the rate of technological change and its possible effect on survey responses.

Last modified: Monday, 18-Sep-2017 03:29:48 AEST

© Andrew Treloar, 2001. * *