A recent survey of TGRG members provided feedback for the committee and other members involved in convening and presenting at the Royal Geographical Society annual conference and other events. A summary of The role of the Journal of Transport Geography was widely and warmly recognised and developments in communications were commended. Please see below for the full report.
Respondents highlighted opportunities to improve and update Transport Geography books, something which is already underway, with a particular note on improving the ease of access through libraries and arguably online. The increasing online presence was commended though awareness of presence on social media was limited, though those who completed the survey had increased their awareness. One respondent suggested that the TGRG should also have a presence on LinkedIn given the professional focus of this channel, which emphasised a need to increase awareness of and engagement with existing provision.
Regarding the future activity of the TGRG respondents also supported events taking place outside the conference, perhaps with a regional or postgraduate / early career research focus. Following the success of the spring postgraduate event, organised by postgraduate representatives Joanna Elvy and Ian Phillips, supported by a grant from the RGS, the latter is intended to occur on an annual basis. There was also demand for greater linkages between the TGRG and established academic, industrial and government organisations, involving organisation of and involvement in shared events, capacity building in a number of ways. There was also support for introducing funding opportunities to improve access to TGRG events and for small scale research programmes, which there is likely to be potential for following the introduction of the small membership fee for TGRG members who are not members through their involvement with the RGS.
What the survey also highlighted was the wealth of research, dissemination and topical expertise amongst members and the willingness to contribute to activities of the TGRG – providing such activities fitted in around the many commitments associated with being a PhD student, post-doctoral research and / or professor. This willingness is something we rely so please get in touch if you are reading this thinking you would be able to convene session for the RGS conference, help with the administration of events, contribute to the website, or judge applications for grants and awards. We welcome offers from members with existing knowledge and experience and can offer support to members who would like to try something new.
Summary of Transport Geography Research Group Member’s Survey
The TGRG recently surveyed their member and received 32 responses mainly from academics with research and / or teaching roles, plus one respondent now employed in the private sector. Respondents demonstrated expertise and interest across a range of sub-topics, with over half of respondents having expertise in quantitative methods and transport planning (both 18 out of 32). Areas with high levels of interest though more limited expertise include transport economics (16 out of 32 have an interest plus 6 out 32 have expertise) and tourism and travel (13 out of 32 interest plus 2 out of 32 expertise). Respondents also highlighted expertise in e.g. GIS and social theories / mobilities and interest in participatory geographies and life-course research in response to open questions.
Participation in TGRG activities
In terms of participation in existing TGRG activities, the majority of respondents (17) had attended the RGS in the previous two years, coming along to TGRG sessions. A further 8 participants had attended but not in the previous two years. Of these 16 respondents had presented in the last two years and a further 9 had experience of presenting over a longer timescale. In total 10 respondents had organised a TGRG sponsored conference session and a further 10 attended a pre- or post-conference event. Eighteen respondent had attended an annual general meeting of the TGRG and 13 were either currently or previously on the committee. A number of respondents expressed an interest in holding office bearing roles in the future and / or becoming an ordinary member of the committee.
The majority of respondents (20) had accessed the TGRG website but only five respondents had played an active role in contributing to content, with four of these also commenting upon existing articles. Regarding social media five respondents were following the twitter account and four had retweeted posts, three had liked the TGRG Facebook account and one had posted to the page. Though these are generally the same people contributing to the TGRG media presence the two twitter followers are not active contributors in other ways. It is worth noting at this point that from open responses to questions the survey increased awareness of the social media presence of the TGRG which may influence future activity and is likely to have affected response to the survey. Regarding the JISCmail 25 respondents had received notifications and 14 had posted / or requested that items be posted around the list.
Twenty-five respondents have read articles from the Journal of Transport Geography and a further 16 published articles in the journal, all most recently within the previous two years. A further 16 had peer reviewed articles for the journal, 13 of who had also published but a further three who had not. A number of respondents had been involved in the editorial board, some as an editor / guest editor. Regarding the book series 28 had read Transport Geography –related books many of whom would recommend these to research and undergraduate students. Eleven respondents had written chapters for such books and six had held editorial responsibilities.
The Importance of and Satisfaction with Current TGRG Activities
Regarding the current provision related to the Transport Geography Research Group Figure 1 summarises the importance and satisfaction with the core activities based on a 5-point Likert scale and average results, where 5 = very important or very satisfied and 1 = very unimportant or very dissatisfied and the difference between importance and satisfaction. All activities were perceived as important with an average of over 3.0. Levels of importance were highest for the Journal of Transport Geography followed the TGRG sponsored sessions at the conference. Regarding satisfaction this was highest for the journal followed by communication via the JISCmail email list. The disparity between importance and satisfaction is also highlighted on the graph, with higher values equating priorities for the TGRG community. Considering this the Transport Geography books, followed by the TGRG website require the greatest levels of investment from TGRG members. When elaborating on reasons for dissatisfaction this includes that the books may not be available in the library and may be difficult to access. In addition there is a new transport geography book scheduled for 2015 as an outcome of the TGRG AGM in 2012. Regarding the website all TGRG members are encouraged to contribute by commenting on existing posts or by adding posts personally.
Figure 1: Importance and satisfaction with current TGRG activities
Support for Future TGRG Activities
The TGRG would like to develop the activities available for members and the survey asked to indicate their level of support under a range of categories. In a separate question TGRG member were asked whether they would be willing to assist with these activities. Responses to each of these questions are summarised in Figure 2.
There was greatest level of support for events outside the conference, perhaps with a specific regional focus or targeted at postgraduates and early career researchers. A number of suggestions centred on working more with other established groups, such as the Universities Transport Studies Group (UTSG) and also providing linkages to existing events across academia and with the public and private sectors. One respondent cautioned that the TGRG should only increase the number of events if the quality can be maintained and in a broader suggestion for activities webinars were suggested. Regarding funding opportunities there was support for making funds available to provide access to RGS activities, particularly for postgraduate and early career researchers and also the suggestion that it could be used for small data collection efforts, though one person suggesting this stressed that this should only occur when it could unlock significant funding from other sources. Whilst one person highlighted that there was a good balance already regarding awards there was support for awards for early career researchers to complement the PhD awards.
Figure 2: Level of support for more activities by category
There is a high level of willingness to support the activities of the TGRG, and as requested some respondents either got in touch to share their details or provided their email address at the end of the survey. So as a group we are grateful to these people. Many respondents were flexible regarding the support they could offer though some respondents would like to assist in specific ways such as organising and chairing sessions for events or judging of funding applications and / or awards. A number of respondents were permanently or currently based outside the UK and expressed an interest in setting up joint events or communicating to their local network.