Surveys were sent via email invitation link to Associate members, Past Travel Awardees, and Non-members who attended one of more of the past three meetings. A total of 358 people responded, representing 68% of the targeted Past Travel Awardees (108 out of 160); 65% of Associate Members (59 out of 91). Of the 1295 non-members invited, only 15% (191) completed the survey. For the entire sample of respondents, 41 % were female and 11% identified themselves as members of an underrepresented minority group. The majority of the sample pool belonged to less than 4 professional organizations (59.8%) and attended 1-2 meetings annually. The majority of the sample pool was under 45 (66 %), had at least on child (65%), and had a partner/spouse who worked fulltime. Of those with children, 30% bring their child/children to the annual meeting (every time or sometimes).
Logistics for annual meeting
Slightly less than half of the respondents rated 47% rated the location of the meeting as a major determinant in their attendance. This was a 10% decline from the 2012 survey. Interestingly, 25% of nonmember meeting attendees interested in a potential program to match meeting attendees who might share the cost of the hotel room. Enthusiasm for this idea was also conveyed by the other groups (30% of associate members and 54% of past travel awardees). The use the subsidized daycare service increased dramatically from last year (98% from 1.6%) among attendees who had young children, suggesting this service is a valuable for many meeting participants.
Associate Members’ Feedback
The 2013 survey response rate for associate members increased to 65% from 43% last year. Respondents included 20 women and 38 men. 36% were PhDs, 12% were MDs, and 14% had both MD+PhD degrees. 72% have a spouse or partner who works full time. Of the associate member respondents, 47% had been an ACNP member for only one year and 64% were past ACNP travel awardees; 12% had applied for associate membership more than once before it was granted.
“Networking with colleagues” and the “quality of the research and science” were popular reasons for seeking associate membership. With regard to perceptions about the college, 63% rated ACNP as “welcoming” to potential new members, 57% indicated they found ACNP staff “easy to contact” when they had questions about the organization, and 67% endorsed feeling comfortable asking more senior members about membership and participation. Many felt neutral or indifferent about these items, and relatively few endorsed negative views, i.e., only 5% felt the college was not welcoming, 3% found it not easy to contact ACNP with questions, and 7% did not feel comfortable reaching out to more senior members with queries about the college. When asked if they believed ACNP membership is valuable for them as professionals, 98% responded affirmatively (much/very much), and the remaining 2% indicated a neutral/moderate position. Only 14% indicated they thought their academic institution placed little or no value on ACNP membership, and the majority come from institutions where membership is important for evaluating faculty and promotions.
When asked to identify things that would make ACNP membership more appealing or valuable, one third of this group endorsed a “more transparent process for successful membership application.” The majority of associate members (75%) were aware of the work of the Membership Advisory Task Force, and had visited the website to obtain information about membership and participation. With regard to a projecting their trajectories toward full membership, 98% said they intend to apply in the future. 81% felt their careers had been progressing sufficiently to eventually qualify for full/regular member status. While only 32% indicated they anticipated achieving full membership with the first application attempt, the majority (77%) of associate members indicated they do anticipate they will eventually be successful in becoming regular members (21% remained unsure). When asked why they have not yet applied for Full Membership, nearly all respondents indicated they felt they were not yet qualified with regard to scholarly accomplishments. When asked what interests/needs/desires they have within the context of ACNP, the most-often endorsed item was “Mentorship on my scientific work” (30 votes), followed by “mentorship on career development” (25 votes). They also indicated a desire for “access to latest/most exciting research” and “access to senior researchers” (25 and 24 votes). Current membership dues were perceived to be reasonable by 61% of the associate membership.
Past Travel Awardees’ Feedback
Data from 108 past travel awardees is summarized here. These include 69% PhDs, 11% MDs, and 16% with combined MD+PhD degrees. Data characterizing their sense of feeling welcomed and easily able to contact ACNP or senior members with questions was very similar to that of the Associate Members respondents.
Only two individuals from this group had applied for membership in the past. When asked about reasons they had not yet applied, 98% identified themselves as “too junior” to qualify, but 52% also indicated the process was “too onerous,” and 13% could not commit to attending meetings every year. There were 4% who indicated they do not ever intend to apply in the future, but the majority (88%) of past travel projected they will engage in the application process within 2-5 years. A slightly smaller proportion of this group, compared to associate members, had a high level of confidence about eventually becoming full members of the college: 59% projected they would be successful, but 35% remain unsure. High value placed on ACNP membership for faculty evaluation and promotion within their academic institution was endorsed by 38% of past travel awardees.
Networking for potential scientific collaboration and mentorship were the most popularly endorsed areas of interest/need by the past travel awardees. While 55% of this group also endorsed a desire for a more transparent process for successful membership application, the most popular item for increasing the value of the college to past travel awardees was “decreased dues and meeting registration cost.” As mentioned above, this group was the most enthusiastic about a matching program to share hotel rooms as a mechanism to reduce costs; a slight majority of past travel awardees (53%) indicated that the cost of the hotel affected their decision to attend the meeting, and 42% also indicated the cost of registration was a major factor.
Nonmember Meeting Attendees
This group of survey respondents included individuals (22%) that had received ACNP travel awards more than 4 or more years ago, and did not become members but returned to attend one or more annual meetings since then. This survey group included a number of individuals who were not successful with their past applications for ACNP membership; 12% had applied for associate membership and 13% had applied for full membership in the past. Data from 60 MDs, 88 PhDs, and 36 individuals with MD+PhD degrees are captured in this group. The majority of this group (68%) was not familiar with the efforts of the Membership Advisory Task Force. Only 32% characterized ACNP as welcoming for potential members; 47% felt it was easy to contact someone with questions, and a proportion similar to the other survey groups (69%) felt comfortable approaching senior ACNP members with their questions. A full 76% of this nonmember group feel membership would be valuable for them as professionals, and 54% intend to apply at some point in the future. Write-in comments submitted by several respondents in this group reflected perceptions by some that their applications had not been rejected because of a “clique-like closed circle,” “old-boys network” or “elitist club” that characterized ACNP, or because they were less competitive based on age, administrative burden, or reputation of their academic institution. Other comments noted lack of transparency and inconsistent or unpredictable criteria for membership, as well as the difficulty securing invitations to meetings and the high cost of dues.
Overall most respondents were positive about the value of ACNP membership, with high costs and an unpredictable standard for achieving membership identified as notable negatives by a minority. Meeting attendees, whether member or nonmember, consistently identify the opportunities for networking and exposure to high quality science as attractions of the college. Almost all of the associate members (98%) intend to seek full membership once they are further along with their work, and a large majority (88%) of recent past travel awardees (within past 3 years) expect to apply for associate membership at some point in the future. Compared with nonmember meeting attendees, associate members and recent travel awardees find the organization to be more welcoming and are more familiar with the mission and efforts of the Membership Advisory Task Force. The need for mentorship and reduced costs (meetings and dues) were identified by a majority of associate members and past travel awardees as things that would make membership more appealing.