FMR Reader Survey 2016 – results and observations

Around the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, FMR conducted a short Reader Survey, online and through an insert in FMR 51, in English and in Spanish. We are very grateful to the approximately 550 individuals who took the time to respond and, as expected, we received encouraging feedback – to go on doing more of what we do – and helpful suggestions. As importantly, we also got a snapshot of our readership.

Who responded


How FMR gets out

One of our purposes was to find out whether we are getting FMR out there as effectively as we can, and in the ways that suit people.

We also tried through the Survey to get an idea of how many people access each copy of the magazine, digest or alert that we send out, and how that happens. From previous surveys we have been able to tell donors and others that each copy of FMR is typically accessed by more than one person, on average maybe five people. This Survey seemed to confirm this information.

What we do

We have learnt from the responses, and received encouragement that FMR continues to be a worthwhile and valued project. FMR evolves slowly and some of the more radical suggestions, such as giving up print entirely, won’t happen in the near future, if ever. However, the Survey has given us food for thought for the coming stages in FMR’s evolution.

We are reviewing, in the light of the responses, the overall balance of our printed magazine, printed digest, online version, podcasts, email alerts, presence on Facebook, Twitter and issuu. That said, the overall message we came away with is that we are doing approximately the right things; this was the response of many individuals and this chimes with the impressionistic view we get from ongoing interactions with authors, donors, Twitter followers, and so on.

In response to being asked where we might make improvements, a gratifying number of respondents told us to go on doing what we have been doing.

There were some general and some specific suggestions for improving or adding to the FMR website; the website will have to be moved to a new platform in the next year or so and we will take these suggestions into account as we do that.

Our proposal to produce occasional ‘thematic listings’ received general approval; so far there are three: Health, Protection at sea, and Youth, and readers are already suggesting topics for future such listings. Other people find the FMR website’s ‘Search’ does the job for them for their individual requirements.

There was a considerable number of suggestions to do things we already do, such as podcasts (which we have done in English since FMR35 on ‘Disability and displacement’ in 2010), web links s for individual articles listed in our email alerts about new issues (we do already), email alerts of new calls for articles (yes, we do this too), use of Twitter (we are active on Twitter, though only 21 respondents mentioned that they access FMR that way, and only 34 mention Facebook), and html versions of the articles online (yes, available in all four languages). Hopefully the Survey will have raised awareness of the range of places where FMR is available, accessible or promoted but the lesson for us is that we obviously need to make readers more aware of all the ways and formats they can access FMR.

And many people gave us suggestions for improvements: some changes but mostly for more things to do, such as webinars, videos, etc. Some suggestions would completely change FMR’s publishing model, for example shorter and more frequent editions, more topicality, longer and more in-depth articles, weekly or monthly electronic publication, etc. We think we have a ‘niche’ that is not compatible with some of these ideas, and some of them are fulfilled by others, but in any case FMR’s capacity to do such things is limited – what would we stop doing to enable us to do those new things? But it is useful to know where readers think FMR can go or where they perceive a gap. We have been challenged to think whether we are ready for radical change, and how much of it we need, given that many people also said they like it as it is.

We received a few suggestions for themes that we could cover, and they will be a helpful addition to the pool of ideas we have for future issues. Most of these were geographical and reflect the locations of the respondents.

More challenging were the requests for more material written by refugees and/or people from the Global South. We would indeed love to have more but our relative failure to have those people’s writing and ideas in FMR does not come about for lack of will or effort on our part; this is genuinely difficult to achieve from where we sit, and help from readers in sourcing such material, or mentoring or co-authoring, would be wonderful.

The Survey and specific sets of comments and suggestions

We have collected together all of the comments and suggestions so that we can refer back to them and use them over the coming period. We have been trying also to address the individual preferences of respondents as well, or respond to individual requests.

We are continually looking for evidence to assess the impact of FMR; we need this for ourselves but of course those who fund the magazine’s production and existence also want it. We always say that it is notoriously difficult to attribute any outcomes to a publication, and much of the evidence is anecdotal, qualitative or amounts to proxy indications of impact. The responses that we received from this Survey are valuable additions to this bigger piece of work, and we are grateful to all those who took the trouble to respond.

Finally, a few of the nice things that respondents wrote:

  • FMR is an excellent channel that communicates ideas, commentaries and views that would otherwise not get to be heard and considered.
  • Excellent and informative publication
  • FMR is such a succinct and useful way to keep on top of recent developments and perspectives, for academics as well as practitioners. Thanks!
  • Generally a great publication. I have followed up with authors on several occasions.
  • I always look forward to getting my copy of FMR, keep up the good work!
  • Keep up the great work! I enjoy reading every issue of FMR
  • Thank you for a wonderful magazine.  As a humanitarian aid worker who is constantly based in the field, it is interesting and exciting to see the great work in which my colleagues are engaged being highlighted.  I find the magazine very informative and continue to cover a wide-range of topics. 
  • Thank you for this amazing journal--I am very grateful to have this incredible resource.
  • Thanks very much for your Open Access to such important issues.
  • You're amazing editors and I'm proud to be a part of FMR authors team!

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Forced Migration Review
Refugee Studies Centre
Oxford Department of International Development
University of Oxford
3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB, UK  +44 (0)1865 281700