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ASA Meetings Survey Results

13 May 2010 No Comment
ASA Membership Surveys Committee

    The Membership Surveys Committee has analyzed responses to the recent survey on ASA meetings. The goal of the survey was to identify potential areas of improvement that would yield more meaningful meetings experiences among the ASA membership and potential new members.

    Survey questions explored the benefits of membership, the Joint Statistical Meetings, involvement in professional societies other than ASA, ASA-sponsored thematic meetings, chapter and regional meetings, and alternative technology modes—webinars, videoconferences, and Internet-based training. The target population was current ASA members as of July 2009, sampled with equal probability, for a total sample size of approximately 2,600 members. That is considerably larger than the typical sample size the group has used in the past.

    This change is due in part to a falloff in response rates over the last five surveys (see Survey Activity at the end of this article), but also because we wanted to do more in-depth probing in this particular survey. The final data set consisted of 1,358 completed interviews, including partials, for an interview rate of 52.4%. Most of the analysis in this report was performed on 1,290 fully completed responses. We present our findings in sections devoted to the major themes of the survey.

    Membership Benefits

    We asked participants how they view five key membership benefits: professional identity; recognition and credentials; career networking and employment opportunities; statistical knowledge shared and gained through ASA conferences; statistical knowledge shared and gained through ASA workshops and trainings; and statistical knowledge shared and gained through ASA publications. Table 1 presents the proportion that rated each benefit as important or very important among the overall membership population and among the four largest employment categories.

    Gaining knowledge via ASA publications was clearly the most popular benefit: 85.1% overall and over 82% across all major membership categories ranked this as important or very important. As might be expected, ASA conferences ranked a close second, rated by 75.8% of participating members as important or very important. A very high proportion of students (87.5%) considered networking and employment opportunities as an important/very important benefit, compared to only 59.6% academic statisticians (nonstudent) who thought similarly. ASA workshops and training came in with the lowest ranking, but this category still garnered the support of the majority (57%). It seems reasonable to conclude that the ASA should continue to provide all these benefits to its members but that the ASA may try to further enhance some of its services.

    JSM Attendance

    The survey results match ASA records on JSM attendance in the past three years (see Survey Activity). On average, about 25% of respondents attended any specific JSM held in the last five years. Slightly more than half (50.2%) attended at least one JSM in the last five years. Surprisingly, about 40% of non-U.S. respondents have attended at least one JSM in the last five years. Younger members, particularly ASA members age 30 and under, had a much lower attendance rate, compared to their fellow ASA members.

    For those who did not attend any JSM in the last five years, the most significant reason was “unable to take time away from work or school.” However, many also stated “professionally, attending JSM was not a priority.” For those who attended JSM, “overall length of the meetings” (i.e., four days of sessions) “and locations/cities where the meetings are held” are the highest-rated features.

    ASA-Sponsored Thematic Meetings

    The ASA sponsors and cosponsors thematic meetings on various statistical topics. We next probe participation and general interest in such thematic meetings among ASA members, and their opinion about the ASA’s sponsoring more special topics thematic meeting and sponsoring non-U.S. meetings.

    Participation in the past five years
    This part focuses on the participation of respondents in 28 ASA-sponsored thematic meetings held during the past five years, starting from the May 2004 Spring Research Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, through the June 2009 Quality and Productivity Research Conference in Yorktown Heights, New York. Respondents were asked to indicate which ASA-sponsored thematic meeting they had attended. About 86.1% indicated that they have not attended any ASA sponsored thematic meeting during the past five years (Figure 1).

    Figure 1. ASA-Sponsored Thematic Meetings Attended in the Last Five Years (%)

    In the past year have you attended any major meetings on statistics or statistical-related topics that were not sponsored by ASA?

    Figure 2. Attending any major meetings on statistics (Not sponsored by ASA %)

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