4 thoughts on “Public attitudes to science survey 2011

  1. Declaration of interest: I am a researcher at Ipsos MORI and worked on this study.

    Good analysis! It’s worth noting that the question about who funds scientific research was unprompted, so people did not think of the NHS (or any other specific organisation for that matter) off the top of their heads. However, p69 of the main report highlights that in the qualitative research, participants considered Government spending on health/the NHS to contribute to scientific research – this acknowledges your second point, about people recognising the role the NHS plays in scientific research.

    I understand what you’re saying about wanting to know more about how to improve public engagement, rather than simply saying there is an “engagement gap”. Clearly it’s not all about Government engagement, and the private sector and charities also have to engage with the public about science, as the survey uncovers. Chapter 8 of the main report, which is about segmenting public attitudes, goes into what different segments of the public want from public engagement. Ipsos MORI will also be exploring this aspect in an interactive session at the BSA’s Science Communication Conference on 26 May 2011.


    • This is really helpful Jayesh, thank you. You are right, the segmenting of public attitudes in the report is helpful in understanding motivations for engagement, and I am pleased there is going to be an opportunity to explore the issues further at the BSA Science Communication Conference.


  2. Hello Simon

    Another declaration of interest – I’m the BIS project lead. Firstly, it’s good to see that you were keen to see the results. There are so many ways in which people are looking at those, and that’s interesting in itself. Some focus on what you term the engagement gap while others focus on the positive aspects. It’s important to get the balance right.

    Like you, we hope that people will subject the data to the deeper analysis that it clearly deserves over the next few months. Our session at the Sci-Comm conference will hopefully be just the first step in this, and we hope to be able to blog on various aspects, including why people seem to feel uninformed.



    • That’s good to know Marilyn. Perhaps we can encourage the Science Minister to blog as well! If only to understand more about how he thinks about this subject. When he spoke at the launch of the RCUK Concordat on Public Engagement I was struck by his remark in response to a question from the audience, that he was very keen in seeing the emphasis put on involvement and participation when it comes to engagement, not just pushing information out.


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