Real impact newsletter:
issue 3

The latest news and insights for the changemakers in the research community, who are passionate about making a difference and challenging the status quo.

Our third newsletter focuses on the results of our academic culture survey 2020. The findings and insights from this survey are set out as a report, divided into four sections:

You can use the 'On this page' and 'In the report' menus to quickly see and jump to content you're interested in, or scroll down to see what's here. Download this report as a PDF

Welcome to our third issue of Real impact

There is mounting evidence that academic culture needs to be re-imagined. Competition driven by performance targets and metrics is partly to blame for a research culture that is increasingly overwhelmed, insecure and stressed.

At the same time, the research landscape is changing – open publishing is gaining momentum and there is a growing desire for a broader range of metrics and indicators. To drill down into these and related topics, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, we conducted a global survey asking members of the research community their views on change within the academic sector.

The four main areas we sought to unearth were cultural issues within academia, research impact evaluation, open research and transparency, and the role publishers can play in driving change.

In this newsletter, we present the findings of Emerald’s Academic culture survey 2020 across these four topics, along with expert commentary and the steps needed for change.

For more about what we’ve been doing to drive change within society and academia, see our Global inclusivity report 2020.

Tamsyn Johnston-Hughes, PR manager
Tamsyn Johnston-Hughes
PR manager

Emerald academic culture survey 2020

In August 2020, we commissioned a global survey to gather views on change within the academic sector. The survey was sent to a random selection of 172,033 academics, librarians and students within Emerald’s literati community. A total of 1,274 literati from 188 countries responded. Topics covered attitudes to research impact evaluation, cultural challenges within academia, openness and transparency, and the role publishers can play in furthering change within the research ecosystem.

Here, we present the key results of the survey, together with expert opinions from Emerald. The focus is largely on global perspectives, but regional specific breakdowns have been added where there are significant points of difference. To assess how views have changed over time, we also present comparable results from our Change ready report 2019

Summary of respondents
Regional breakdown Percentage
UK 9.4%
Australasia 7.0%
China/East Asia/NAT 11.8%
India 9.5%
Latin America 3.2%
Middle East & North Africa 8.5%
North & Western Eu excl UK 8.0%
North America 14.4%
Southern & Eastern Europe 19.7%
Sub Saharan Africa 8.4%


Gender breakdown Percentage
Male 62.1%
Female 37.1%
Other 0.9%


Position breakdown Percentage
Head of Department 11.9%
Research Manager 4.3%
Impact Officer 0.3%
Researcher 25.3%
Faculty/Teaching 46.0%
Student 4.7%
Librarian 1.2%
Other 6.3%


Career stage breakdown Percentage
Student 7.2%
1-5 years post PhD 18.0%
6-10 years post PhD 16.3%
11-15 years post PhD 13.8%
16-20 years post PhD 9.9%
20+ years post PhD 26.7%
Not applicable 8.07%


Organisation breakdown Percentage
Academic institution 91.2%
Funding body 0.4%
National or local government 2.6%
A not for profit organisation 1.0%
A commercial organisation 1.5%
I am retired 1.7%
Other 1.4%

See breakdown of respondents

Our four report sections

The survey findings and expert opinions are presented within the four main sections below.

Academic culture

Academic culture

Cultural challenges, from escalating pressures on researchers to the impact of remote working on wellbeing.

Coming soon

Impact evaluation

How change ready we are to move beyond traditional metrics and embrace fairer, more meaningful evaluation.

Coming soon

Openness & transparency

Key findings on openness and transparency in relation to open access, open data, peer reviews and pre-prints.

Coming soon

Future role of publishers

Related to topics such as open access, in addition to publishing innovations and research support services.

Join us in making a difference

For over 50 years, championing fresh thinking has been at the heart of the Emerald business. Our goal is to help those in academia or people in practice work together to make a positive change in the real world.

Send us an email

Publish with us

Find the right home for your research across our journals, books, teaching cases and open access options.

See how

Get talking

Send us a message, or get in touch via social media.

Contact us