What are we talking about? A survey of the ITSoc community members we conducted from July 5 to August 31 2021.

Why? To understand various aspects of the Society, its activities and climate, and to provide useful data to the ITSoc community, its committees and volunteers.

Who responded? 354 people. Here are some insights into the composition of the respondents. Note that the % stated are % of those who responded to the relevant question.

  • The majority of respondents were faculty (57%) or in the industry (12%). Graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduates combined made up 23% of respondents.
  • While about 90% of respondents were ITSoc members, only 41% considered all their professional activities as being related to information theory.
  • 84% of respondents identify as male, 15.5% as female, and one as non-binary.
  • Just under 5% of respondents identify as belonging to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The country of residents of respondents was roughly in-line with ITSoc averages. The top-ten were USA (38.5%), India (12.3%), Canada (6%), China (5.6%), Japan (4.7%), France (3.6%), Sweden (2.9%), Brazil (2.7%), Spain (2.3%), and Italy (2.0%)

What are the four most interesting findings?

  • Volunteering: There is a significant latent appetite amongst respondents for additional volunteering. Almost 55% of respondents would like to serve on an ISIT or ITW TPC but had not yet had the chance. There is also lots of interest to review for the Transactions or the Journal (42%), to serve as an AE (40%), or on a Society committee (33%). These numbers are also high among faculty respondents.
  • Conference formats: Respondents were almost evenly divided between a desire for a return to the classic in-person format (45%) and for hybrid formats (45%). A smaller but not-trivial number (10%) prefer virtual conferences. The organizers of recent and upcoming ISITs and ITWs have and are experimenting with conference formats and events. We feel these numbers indicate an appetite for such experimentation. The Conference Committee recently ran a survey on conference formats that had similar indications (see the report in the Dec 2021 Newsletter: https://www.itsoc.org/sites/default/files/2021-12/NITS_Dec2021-web.pdf).  The long-form responses in this survey complement that report.
  • Review process: Many research communities are engaging in debates about double-blinding reviews. Of the respondents, 29% felt that their (author’s) identity had influenced how their papers were reviewed, and 16% believed their identity had not influenced any handling of their submissions. About 44% of respondents either stated they preferred a double-blind process or would like to try it out at an ISIT or an ITW. A smaller percentage (22%) stated they prefer single-blind, and 19% had no preference. There are several tradeoffs between single and double-blinding (see Section 7 of bit.ly/PeerReviewOverview), and the results of this survey suggest a desire to try out at least a basic form of double-blinding at an ISIT or ITW where author identities are removed from the submissions and no additional restrictions are imposed.
  • Challenges in participating fully: Finally, about 20% of respondents felt that certain factors or demographic attributes had led to challenges to their participating fully in the Society. We hope that the conducting of this survey and the sharing of responses with our community will be a positive step in strengthening our Society and making it welcoming for all.

Is this it? There's a lot more! Check out the full report at [https://www.itsoc.org/diversity-and-inclusion/survey_2021]. It has detailed statistics about responses to each of the 22 questions as well as a compilation of textual responses, both of which are quite informative. As one would expect, on many topics (including the decision to conduct a survey) community members expressed a variety of opinions. We hope that such thoughts from Society members will prove to be one of the most useful outcomes of the survey, providing new ideas and motivations for Society volunteers, activities, and initiatives.

Any concluding thoughts? As mentioned, the survey responses also had a few dissenting comments regarding conducting such a survey. We welcome all perspectives, and we thank you for filling out the survey.