BMS survey results
The British Mycological Society carried out research during May and June of this year to find out about the interests of members and others in the mycology community.
The research has provided valuable insight and detail that will help the Society grow and develop - thank you very much to all those who took part!
Here, we share some of the key findings and plans for next steps.
Who took part in the research?
Current BMS members and others aware of the BMS - through events, social media or friends and colleagues - were invited to complete an online survey, to share their thoughts on the benefits of being a member of the Society, what they value and would like from the BMS, what the Society does well and what could be done better, and where they would like to see the Society in 10 years’ time.
A total of 363 people took part: 243 BMS members and 120 non-members.
The response from BMS members is around 43% of the total membership at the time.
Why join the BMS?
Those who have joined the BMS within the last 3 years, have mostly done so to keep up to date with the most recent understandings of fungal ecology, take part in BMS events (workshops, conferences, symposia, forays) and network or meet other, likeminded members.
For longer-term members, receiving the BMS journals, taking part in events, and supporting the BMS in raising the profile and awareness of mycology are the key drivers for membership.
A main reason for not joining the BMS is not knowing enough about membership, along with not seeing the benefit of membership, and being able to access what they need without being a member. A fifth of non-members taking part in the survey used to be a member, but are not currently.
How is the BMS perceived?
The BMS is most commonly seen as Respected, Expert and Professional by its members, and also as Informative by non-members. The BMS is also seen by members as being somewhat old-fashioned, and needing to modernise. In terms of the Society’s roles, members and non-members think the Society is most effective at producing journals for the national and international community, and organising conferences, workshops and other activities supporting mycology.
All those taking part in the survey feel the BMS is least effective at encouraging those interested to join the Society and participate in activities. Additionally, non-members feel the BMS is not so effective at promoting the recognition and understanding of all areas of mycology to the public and in the media.
Which BMS activities are most valued?
For those members working or volunteering as Field Mycologists, the most valued BMS events and meetings are the field meetings and workshops, and Local Recording Group events. Members working as Research Scientists most value the BMS Annual Scientific Conference, and international workshops or symposia. Non-members most value UK Fungus Day and Local Recording Group events, and all those taking part in the survey placed high value on BMS’s online lectures and talks.
Of the BMS’s information and resources, members most value the BMS journals. Most valued by non-members are the BMS Facebook Group and Resources for identification and taxonomy (e.g. Keys, English Names). Many survey participants provided helpful feedback on areas of the website they find most useful and there were numerous constructive and practical suggestions for ways in which the members’ newsletter could be developed to make the content more relevant and appealing.
How could BMS improve?
For members, the key areas for the BMS to focus on for development and improvement are member engagement and communication, tailoring membership to better match their interests, and raising the Society’s profile, through outreach and other activities. Non-members also identified the provision of more education and information for beginners, and the Society being more open and connected as other key areas.
When asked what they would like to see the BMS achieve in the next 10 years, the largest number of comments related to an increase in outreach and activity to raise public awareness and promote mycology. This was followed by more inclusion and engagement to encompass all members' interests and the broader aspects of mycology.
The insight delivered by the survey is helping shape the development of our overall strategy. The BMS Committees are discussing ways to address key points raised by survey participants. We are also identifying where the Society can focus its efforts to better meet the needs of the mycology community. We’ll keep you updated as these plans progress.
Dr Emma Thompson, Scientific Communications & Development Officer, BMS