You talked, we listened - RSA

You talked, we listened


  • Picture of Mike Thatcher
    Mike Thatcher
    Editorial Manager, the RSA
  • Arts and culture
  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Democracy and governance

The RSA responds to feedback on the Journal from over 2,000 Fellows who completed a recent reader survey

Fellows have indicated their support for the Journal in a reader survey, with 86% of respondents describing the quarterly publication as an important part of their Fellowship and over half saying they always read it.

The survey, completed by more than 2,000 Fellows, found that 24% considered the Journal a ‘very important’ component of their Fellowship, 35% said it was ‘important’ and 27% ‘somewhat important’. Around half of respondents rated the Journal at eight or higher on a zero-to-ten quality scale.

In response to open questions within the survey, Fellows described the Journal as a “quality publication”, with “stimulating and engaging” content and “brilliant artwork”.

This endorsement follows from the Journal’s successful performance in the Corporate Content Awards Europe 2023. Along with Wardour, the RSA’s content agency partner, the Journal claimed silver in the ‘best long-term use of content’ and ‘best branded content publication’ categories, and bronze in the ‘best use of print’ category.

According to reader survey respondents, the Journal was the second most preferred way for Fellows to keep in touch with the RSA, with 69% of respondents ranking it in their top three. Fifteen per cent said they ‘always’ read the publication in depth, 41% always read ‘at least some of it’, 12% ‘usually’ read it and 10% ‘occasionally’ read it.

Sixty-five per cent agreed that the Journal introduced them to new ideas and thinking, while 74% confirmed that it updated them on the work of the RSA.

Responding to feedback 

The survey also identified some areas for growth. For instance, only 32% agreed that the Journal inspired them to get involved with the RSA. Responses to the open questions also suggested that there should be more focus on the arts than the social sciences, that the content could be more accessible, and that the text is sometimes difficult to read. 

In response to your feedback, we have already begun incorporating more articles about the arts and are working to refresh the balance of content so that it is still challenging but also accessible to a wider audience. More practically, the font size has been increased from this issue to improve readability.

To help guide the strategic direction of the Journal, the RSA has established an editorial board, with membership comprising Fellows, external specialists and RSA senior leaders (including Chief Executive Andy Haldane). I have also recently joined the RSA as Editorial Manager with a remit to improve accessibility and ensure that you, the Fellows, are always at the heart of the commissioning process.

The editorial board will ensure that the Journal continues to be an internationally renowned publication that reflects the world as it is as well as showcasing the world as it could be. It will help the Journal to represent the best of the RSA, excite and engage Fellows, and support the scope of the RSA’s Design for Life mission.

To help guide the strategic direction of the Journal, the RSA has established an editorial board, with membership comprising Fellows, external specialists and RSA senior leaders.

RSA Editorial Manager Mike Thatcher

Print still preferred

Many of the open comments highlighted that Fellows value the printed copy of the Journal. This was backed up by the survey results, with 45% saying they would prefer to receive the Journal in a print format, although 27% would opt to have it in a digital-only format and 25% would like to see it in both a print and digital format.

The RSA understands these different preferences and concerns over the environmental impact of producing a printed publication for Fellows based across the globe. We do print the Journal on paper that has been carbon offset through the World Land Trust, but there is always more that can be done.

There will be more to say on this in future issues of the Journal – including our plans for a more extensive digital experience.

Mike Thatcher is Editorial Manager at the RSA.

This article first appeared in RSA Journal Issue 2 2023.

Read more Journal and Comment articles

  • In conversation with Tracy Brabin


    Andy Haldane

    Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin talks to RSA Chief Executive Andy Haldane about the power of the creative industries in boosting economic growth.

  • The economics of Citizen Smith


    Andy Haldane

    RSA CEO Andy Haldane discusses whether Citizen Smith's time has now come as the 'power to the people' rallying cry is embraced by the UK's two main political parties.

  • Faking it


    Nina Schick

    Navigating the new era of generative AI may be the most critical challenge to democracy yet