In your own words: 2021 subscriber survey results

This year marks the 20th anniversary of APO. For 20 years APO has been the reliable and trusted source of policy and research grey literature. So, what does the 2021 Subscriber Survey tell us? This reliability has bred loyalty among our subscribers. APO Director, Brigid van Wanrooy discusses the findings and we hear directly from our subscribers.

APO 20 years logo: curating, connecting, collaborating. 
Quote: "I am really grateful for all the work that you do in collection and disseminating these policy resources. Really important stuff and no doubt the huge, positive impacts go way beyond what you could see or measure. Thank you!" 2021 Subscriber Survey respondent.

2020 was a difficult year for most and we can see that in the number of you who responded to the survey that year – just 391. We were back up to strong numbers in 2021, receiving 568 valid responses – a touch more than the 564 we received in 2019. 

It’s clear that our subscribers are a loyal bunch. More than half (54 per cent) of respondents have been subscribed to APO newsletters for 1-5 years, and another 24 per cent were subscribed for more than five years. 

And pretty diligent readers too! An impressive 41 per cent of respondents reported reading all their newsletters, and a further 39 per cent reading most of them. And surprisingly, this didn’t seem to differ among our Policy Weekly and (twice-weekly) Policy Pulse readers.  The subjects subscribers are most interested in have not changed much since 2019, except for Environment which has moved from a ranking of 9th place to 6th place in 2021. I don’t think that needs any further explanation.

Chart: Which subjects are of most interest to you? 
Social Issues 66%
Government 52%
Health 42%
First Peoples 37%
Education 33%
Environment 33%
Economics (inc. employment) 32%
Justice 28%
Culture 24%
Technology 19%
Science 17%
International relations 16%
Built environment 16%
Communication 13%
National security 8%
Other 1%
Which subjects are of most interest to you?

It’s always interesting to read the comments you leave us. This year, the answers to the question ‘Is there anything else you would like to tell us?’ fell under three broad themes. 

1. The value to people working in all levels of Government

“Thanks, you are an important mechanism for disseminating evidence.”

Respondent working in Local Government

“Thank you. Innovation thrives when people can bring discoveries from one field to another field. APO helps me to stay across new developments in a broad range of fields and the pithy summaries help me understand and see the relevance of work from a broad range of areas.”

Respondent working in State Government

“I am profoundly appreciative of your work, the amazing newsletters, website and resources, and that this can all be kept in the public unpaid domain. So important, especially for students, new and young employees and others.”

Respondent working in State Government

“The Policy Pulse has been very helpful for my Policy Analysis job. I greatly appreciate and value the cutting edge research, up to date analysis, and cross cutting nature of the publications. When crafting memos at work, I often make reference to the articles sourced from the APO”.

Respondent working in Federal Government

2. The value to people working in Not For Profits

“I use APO as a coaching tool for new policy officers. This would be difficult if you move to a full subscription model.”

“It is extremely valuable to have free access to this service (especially Policy Pulse) which provides lists of recently published research on a range of social issues that are relevant to my work. We regularly use APO to identify new research that is relevant to our [peak body] members and share this with them. We have limited funding to support this type of research gathering, so we find the APO extremely valuable.”

3. Hmmm we haven’t made ourselves clear… 

We always get feedback for suggestions of what you would like to see. And many of these features are already available! 

For example, some respondents wanted to see links to further work by the publishing organisation or author. Did you know that when you click on a resource in the newsletter you are taken to the landing page, where most of the information is a link to other related resources? Click on the publishing organisation and you will go to their APO page with links to their resources, and often, their website. Click on a subject and you are taken to the most recent resources tagged with this subject. 

We’ll start providing ‘Did you know?’ tips in our newsletters and on our socials about how you can get the most out of APO.*

At APO, we know that more people would find our service useful – and so do you. 

“It’s a great service but not many people seem to know about it.”

So please help us spread the word! More subscribers and friends of APO can help our chance of survival. 

Finally, thank you for completing the Subscriber Survey. Congratulations to the winners of the survey draw: Prue and Jason won an iPad each; Craig, Sarah and Yvonne won My APO+ memberships, as well as a ticket to AIFS2022 for Yvonne. 

Note: The 2021 Subscriber Survey took place online during 8-30 November 2021.
* Since writing we have published a list of Frequently Asked Questions in response to this type of feedback.