Australian ESO User Survey 2019

by Stuart Ryder
ESO collects feedback from its users in a number of ways:

  • All observers in Visitor Mode to La Silla or Paranal are required to fill out an “End of Mission” report.
  • Annual user satisfaction campaigns targeting selected PIs in Service Mode.
  • Member state representatives on the ESO Users Committee actively solicit feedback from their communities prior to each UC meeting.

In order to properly measure the impact that the ESO Strategic Partnership is having across a range of outputs including collaboration, public outreach, leveraging grants, etc., AAL conducts annual Australian ESO User Surveys, targeting the Principal Investigators who were allocated ESO time in the two most recently completed Periods.

The first such survey, covering Period 101 (Apr – Sep 2018) and Period 102 (Oct 2018 – Mar 2019), was conducted in the second half of April 2019. A total of 23 individual PIs were contacted, of whom 16 (70%) completed the survey. Some noteworthy conclusions from this survey are:

  • Some ¾ of PIs received at least half the data they expected. Only one PI reported getting no data, for their Group C (lowest priority) Service Mode program.
  • At least ¾ of PIs reported new collaborations with astronomers from ESO member states and/or Australia as result of this access.
  • Nearly every PI reported that 1 or more students would get to benefit from their ESO data, and over half indicated that 1 or more postdocs would benefit.
  • Significant numbers of ARC-funded Future Fellows, Discovery Projects, and ASTRO 3D researchers are set to benefit from and/or helped support this access.
  • Half of the PIs reported having given a conference talk or poster already based on their ESO results.
  • The primary benefits cited for observing in Visitor Mode was the ability to make real-time decisions on changing the observing strategy, along with the opportunity to consult with the support astronomer at the telescope.
  • Over 80% of PIs reported being “Satisfied” or “Very satisfied” with their overall ESO user experience.
  • The most popular sections on AAL’s ESO Forum are the How to Apply and the Proposal Statistics and Allocations pages.
  • The most common additional request from PIs was for a workshop on using ESO data and instruments.

We thank everyone who took the time to complete this survey, which will help AAL focus its resources where they are most needed, and in the longer term assist in making the case to government for full ESO membership at the end of our Strategic Partnership.

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