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Research Report

An evaluation of POLEX (CIFOR’s Forest Policy Experts Listserv): Targeting key forest agenda-setters

Michael J. Spilsbury
Nina Haase
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2005
Pages: 89
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-5)

    POLEX, the Forest Policy Experts listserv, provides short summaries of recent research about forest issues, highlighting their significance for policy. POLEX messages are sent to nearly 12,000 people around the world once or twice a month. The subscribers to the listserv include many of the world’s influential policymakers, opinion leaders and researchers concerned with forests, forest policy and conservation. The messages are written in a journalistic style, presenting short summaries of recent research about policies affecting forests. Since 1997, when the service began, over 150 POLEX messages have been circulated. Approximately half of the POLEX messages are based on research...

  2. (pp. 6-6)

    The POLEX message service was initiated in 1997 and distributed in English. In 1998 POLEX translation and distribution in Indonesian began. List servers providing translated POLEX messages in Spanish and French were instigated in 2001 and, since 2002, POLEX has also been available in Japanese.

    Figure 1 shows the net subscription totals for all POLEX lists between 1997 and 2003. POLEX subscription lists have been growing continuously since inception, with the English POLEX not only being the largest, but also the fastest growing with close to 9,100 subscribers at the time of survey. POLEX Espagñol had 1,600 subscribers, POLEX Français...

  3. (pp. 7-9)

    Dr. David Kaimowitz, Director General of CIFOR, is the founder, writer and editor of the POLEX message service. He personally selects all source documents, and prepares the summaries in his own inimitable journalistic style. He considers a number of factors when selecting the source documents:

    ‘I try to keep a balance of about 50% related to CIFOR’s work and about 50% from outsiders, although the exact percentages vary somewhat over time. I also try to keep a regional balance and a balance in topics. If I have recently done a message about a topic I am unlikely to return to...

  4. (pp. 10-11)

    The study methods for the evaluation of the POLEX message service were straightforward. Survey instruments (questionnaires) were prepared for distribution to the authors of articles featured by POLEX and also for readers registered as POLEX subscribers. Reader survey forms were prepared in English and translated into Japanese, French and Spanish. Survey forms were sent to all authors and the entire subscription lists for the French, Spanish and Japanese POLEX lists. French and Japanese subscriber lists received the survey form as an email attachment; the Spanish subscribers received an invitation to complete on online web-based survey form. The questionnaire for the...

  5. (pp. 12-28)

    Who are the POLEX readers? What is their disciplinary background and what types of organisation do they work for?

    POLEX focuses on forest issues and it is therefore unsurprising that the single largest group of recipients—just over one-quarter—have a forestry background. Respondents with disciplinary backgrounds in biology and natural resources management accounted for 15% and 9% respectively. Generally there is a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds among the recipients of POLEX However, one unexpected result occurred in the POLEX Espagñol list: recipients with a biology background were the largest group and were three times more numerous than those...

  6. (pp. 29-29)

    POLEX has been a hugely successful initiative. Summaries of recently completed policy-relevant research reach large numbers of people around the world through POLEX. Messages are sent to nearly 12,000 subscribers globally and the subscription lists continue to grow. Conservative estimates suggest that a further 4,000 people receive each POLEX message as subscribers further disseminate POLEX to other third party peers and colleagues. In addition, POLEX messages are circulated on other organizational mailing lists, professional listservs and websites. POLEX summaries are reprinted in a variety of forest-related publications including journals and newsletters. The total ‘reach’ of POLEX across all media is...