Looking back and looking forward: the 2020 member survey


For the last 3 years, we have been sending an annual survey to our members (for previous results, see https://doi.org/10.5438/0x81-y943 and https://doi.org/10.5438/99ne-g618) to receive input which helps us reflect on how we did and how we can improve moving forward. In this blog post, we want to share the outcomes of the 2020 survey and also take the opportunity to look at some of the changes we see compared to previous surveys.

One thing that remains relatively stable over time is the representation. All three years, close to 25% of members completed the survey and over half of these represent research institutions and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and North America.

The last two years we’ve asked members why they joined DataCite, and DOI registration remains the most important reason, with 89% of members indicating that this was their main reason to join DataCite. However, around one third of respondents also indicated that they joined DataCite to support the DataCite mission and participate in DataCite governance. Following our work on the DataCite value proposition, we asked members what value they are getting out of being a DataCite member. Discoverability of research outputs was mentioned most often, closely followed by being able to follow best practices and the ability to connect research outputs into the research ecosystem.

In 2018, 91% of our members said they were very likely to recommend DataCite to other organizations. Last year this number was 78%, mainly due to concerns around the membership model. Fortunately this year 96.5% of members participating in the General Assembly voted in favor of the new membership model and we are pleased to see that this year the number of members very likely to recommend us increased again, to 83%. We will continue to work hard to ensure all of you are happy to be working with us!

When asked what we do well, support was mentioned most often. In 2018, support was seen as the main thing we need to improve, so we are happy we succeeded in changing that! Registering DOIs, both through Fabrica and the APIs, was also mentioned by many members. Members appreciate that we are community driven, listen to our members, and really try to engage with the community. Open Hours was seen as a good example of this. In last year’s member survey we heard that we should not get distracted by too many new things, so it was good to see that several members commented that we have a good balance between core services and innovation.

In previous years, one of the main areas for improvement was timely communication when changes were made, which was not mentioned as often this year. Members indicated that stability of services was their main concern in 2020, specifically DataCite Fabrica. It is therefore part of our 2021 vision to make improvements in this area. Several members also indicated they would appreciate more opportunity for interaction and the ability to influence DataCite’s direction. This year, we also specifically asked whether members are part of a DataCite group or committee, and 18% responded they would like to join a group. We followed up with all members that left an email address, but please don’t hesitate to contact us directly so we can find a suitable group or committee for you!

When asked about DataCite services, members reported they use Fabrica and the APIs most often, but also expressed an interest in using Event Data and DataCite Commons in the future. Members would like to see improvements to Event Data, as well as better REST API documentation. We also asked about ways to make research outputs more discoverable, and members suggested we should share an overview of search engines indexing DataCite metadata, should provide more guidance on how to make outputs discoverable, and work more closely with other DOI registration agencies. We are currently working on adding DOIs from other DOI registration agencies to DataCite Commons, and a little over 50% of members said we should be adding DOIs from all RAs, with just under 50% indicating that we should only include Crossref DOIs.

When it comes to community engagement, members are interested in having guides for specific services, as well as video tutorials. Like last year, members indicated they would like to interact with other members to learn from them. We are considering using the PIDforum for this purpose, and members suggested that the most important step to make the most of the PIDforum is to post regularly so it becomes worthwhile and people know they will get an answer.

We are really happy with all this feedback which was, and is, extremely helpful when deciding on our priorities for 2021. Thanks to all who participated! We received some questions about a survey for Consortium Organizations which we will be working on this year, so that we get input from the broader community. If you have any questions or suggestions for us, or if you want to join one of the DataCite groups, please don’t hesitate to contact us at support@datacite.org!

Helena Cousijn
Community Engagement Director at DataCite | Blog posts