~ By Colette
We recently conducted a survey about the availability of research and information related to adolescent behavioral health, and how technology is changing the way information is accessed and used by youth-serving professionals. The data has been entered and we are beginning to look at the results. Several weeks ago, Wil Scott blogged about the survey and some of the initial results.
As associate editor, the questions which held the most interest to me had to do with respondents’ need for journals and their desire for printed or digital material. Many of the publications I read have already, or seem to be, shifting to an all-digital format. Personally, I find that unfortunate as I feel I am much less likely to read things on the computer screen. For me, reading is an opportunity to move away from my computer. And, at the same time, I easily forget about the existence of an interesting article or report which is digital-only. Having it physically sit on the corner of my desk waiting for my attention is much more of a prompt to read it than a “flag” in my email inbox.
But what about other professionals?
As Wil noted, when asked about their primary source of information, 46% of our respondents indicated the “Internet;” however, 31% indicated “journals, magazines, and print materials.”
While journals and other similar materials may not be the primary source of information for 69% of our respondents, it does not mean that they are not a valued source of information. As a follow-up question we asked “How important are journals, magazines, and trade publications in meeting your information needs?” As can be seen in the figure below, respondents were evenly distributed in finding journals and like materials to be either “somewhat important” (47%) or “very important” (49%).
The importance of journals, magazines, and trade publications are further reflected in the responses to our question, “Do you currently subscribe to any journals or magazines?” An overwhelming number of respondents (82%) currently subscribed to at least one journal or magazine in their work with youth.
In an effort to further understand readers’ needs for online material, we asked respondents if they access the online or digital versions of the journals/magazines they subscribe to. Looking only at those respondents who currently subscribe to a publication, only 15% access online/digital versions “frequently,” 57% do so “occasionally,” and a quarter (26%) “never” do (see chart below).
Given how comfortable younger adults are with digital media, my first thought was to look at how accessing journal/magazine information might vary by age. As seen in the chart below, while our younger respondents (those in the 25-34 age range) are more likely to frequently access online/digital versions of journals and magazines (20% vs 13–15% for the other age ranges), I was surprised by the results. In fact, while the 55+ age group was most likely to never access online/digital versions (29%), the 25-34 year olds were close behind at 26%.
On a related note, we also asked “Do you prefer to purchase printed or digital materials?” As might be expected from the above results, an overwhelming number of respondents preferred purchasing printed over digital material (74% vs. 26%).
Although I prefer printed materials myself, I was actually shocked by the overwhelming preference for this medium amongst our respondents. Again, my first reaction was to look at the results by age. As can be seen in the figure below, every age group preferred to purchase printed over digital material. Even amongst those in the 25 to 34 age group, two-thirds (64%) preferred to purchase printed materials.
In sum, the results of this part of our survey affirmed, for me, the continued need for professional journals, magazines, and trade publications, as well as professionals’ continued desire for the printed medium.