Final results of BIONEWS readership survey

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at GENBANK.BIO.NET
Tue Jul 3 19:44:37 EST 1990

My thanks first off to Eliot Lear, my systems programmer colleague and
USENET guru here at IntelliGenetics, for his programming efforts which
assisted greatly in producing the following results.

Although 579 replies to the BIONEWS survey were received, the number
dropped to 554 after filtering out duplicate addresses.  The only
gauge of a response rate that I have readily available is our own
local mailing list for BIONEWS (other lists also exist at the other
three BIOSCI nodes but there is no need to beat this estimate into the
ground).  Sixty six percent (66%) of the recipients on our list
responded to my survey.  Compared to regular mail surveys (often
running at 5 - 10% response) this is an outstanding rate and says
something in itself about e-mail users.  Note that the time period
covered (23 May to 1 July) may have caught some people already gone on
holiday/sabbatical leave.  

In any event, if one makes the brazen assumption that the response
rate is about 2/3 for all of the four BIOSCI nodes as well as for the
USENET readership, this would put the readership of BIONEWS at a bit
over 800 subscribers (about 6% of the 1989 circulation of "Cell" and
2% of the 1989 circulation of "Nature").  This is somewhat less than I
anticipated (I hoped to get around 1500).  We know from other surveys
on USENET that over a thousand computers connected to USENET receive
the bionet.* USENET groups, but the unhappy possibility exists that
the groups are not yet utilized on a sizable fraction of these
machines (and/or possibly that many biologist USENET readers have not
yet learned how to reply to USENET news messages).

Note also that these results apply only to the BIONEWS bulletin board
and do not measure the entire BIOSCI readership.  While BIONEWS is the
most active of the newsgroups, containing about 20% of all BIOSCI
postings, it is only one of 21 BIOSCI bulletin boards.  Of course,
substantial overlap in subscription lists will exist between many of
the newsgroups, so I would not expect an extremely large increase
between BIONEWS readership and total BIOSCI readership (maybe a factor
of 2?).

Over half of the responses came from the U.S., but the geographical
reach of the newsgroups is still impressive.

Please note that messages claiming to represent a vote for a group of
people (e.g., "There are 40 scientists here at my institution that
read the newsgroups.") were counted only as one vote.  Proxy votes
were not allowed.  Every effort was made to make this a fair and
accurate representation of the system as it currently exists.

My thanks once again to all of you who responded.  I will undoubtedly
run one of these surveys again in the future.


				David Kristofferson, Ph.D.
				GenBank On-line Service Manager

				kristoff at


	      Responses to the BIONEWS Readership survey
	           conducted over a 40 day period
		   from 23 May 1990 to 1 July 1990

                Country                    Responses
                -------                    ---------
                U.S. total                   304
                  U.S. (.edu)                    203
                  U.S. (.bitnet)                  38
                  U.S. (governmental)             21
                  U.S. (network services)         10
                  U.S. (commercial)               24
                  U.S. (other organizations)       8
                U.K.                         110
                Germany                       26
                Canada                        16
                Australia                     15
                Switzerland                   13
                Finland                       11
                Ireland                        7
                Japan                          7
                Belgium                        6
                France                         6
                Israel                         5
                Netherlands                    5
                Sweden                         4
                Spain                          3
                Turkey                         3     
                Austria                        2
                Greece                         2
                Norway                         2
                Taiwan                         2
                Denmark                        1
                Hong Kong                      1
                Italy                          1
                Mexico                         1
                New Zealand                    1
                Total                        554

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