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01/11/2014

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Blog

Welcome to the blog, you can read all about the latest news for the sections and take a look in our archive. Scroll through the latest posts below, or select a section from the dropdown.

by Kerry Seelhoff from the BIS Science and Society team.

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It’s been six months since Public Attitudes to Science 2014 was published, and the Science and Society team at BIS would like to know whether you’ve used it, how you’ve used and what you’ve used it for.

by Graphic Science

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In March 2014, the latest version of the Public Attitudes to Science report was published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in partnership with Ipsos MORI. But what can we learn from the PAS survey?

Ellie CosgraveBy Dr Ellie Cosgrave, engineer and ScienceGrrl director.

By Karen Folkes, Chair of the 'Public Attitudes to Science' Steering Group and Deputy Head of Science and Society, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Nearly a year ago, I wrote on this blog to set out what we were doing to update our evidence on UK public attitudes to science. As you can see from all the other posts, there has been a lot of activity since. And now we’re able to publish what we’ve found.

Hilary LeeversAs part of the Public Attitudes to Science (PAS) 2014 study, Ipsos MORI held a qualitative Day of Discovery in London earlier this month. With a 15-strong team from Ipsos MORI, they recruited over 100 members of the general public to enter the Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields church to spend part of their day discussing how to improve the quality of science communication. In particular, the day focused on five different questions:

  • What is the best way to communicate with different segments of the public?
  • Why do people feel better informed about certain topics than others?
  • How can we help people better understand what scientists actually do in their work?
  • How can we improve trust in science and scientists?
  • What drives public support for investment in science and technology?

All these are questions that the PAS 2014 survey findings can help with, but require a qualitative approach for a more meaningful answer, as Dr Hilary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust and one of the observers on the day, recounts below.

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It was fascinating to eavesdrop on the Day of Discovery. As an enthusiast myself, it was revealing to listen to some people speaking frankly about the more troubled or detached relationships they have with science alongside the passion of others.

by Ling Ge, Manager at EPSRC UK National Service for Computational Chemistry Software (NSCCS).

By Alan Mercer is Sciencewise Programme Director. This post is part of a series of posts for the Public Attitudes to Science 2014 study.

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This month saw the publication of a Special Eurobarometer report on Responsible research and innovation, science and technology.  For anyone engaged in developments in science and technology, the survey into the views of the public from across the 27 EU states makes for very interesting reading.

As the Programme Director for the Sciencewise programme, I was drawn to the finding that 64% – almost two-thirds – of those surveyed in the UK indicated that public dialogue is required on decisions about science and technology. This places the UK fifth in the EU for requiring this dialogue, and higher than the EU27 average of 55%.

By Suzi Gage, a final year Epidemiology PhD student from the University of Bristol, looking at the relationship between drug use and mental health. She was the 2012 UK science blog prize winner and her blog, Sifting the Evidence, is part of the Guardian's science blog network. She has also just completed a Media Fellowship with the BBC. This post is part of a series of posts for the Public Attitudes to Science 2014 study.

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A friend of mine, trying to get a rise out of me, once told me that he’d rather see me writing in the Daily Mail than for the Guardian, where my science blog is hosted. Though he was perhaps being facetious*, the underlying point is important. When we as scientists want to communicate the work we are doing to the public, who are our intended audience? And how do we reach them?

Tim Silman is a Research Assistant at Ipsos MORI and is part of the team responsible for designing, managing and analysing the survey element of Public Attitudes to Science (PAS) 2014.

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In June, Patrick Sturgis, Principle Researcher for the Wellcome Trust Monitor (WTM), posted this blog, advocating “gold-standard” sampling approaches for public opinion surveys on science issues. He’ll be pleased to hear that BIS and Ipsos MORI have taken on board his and other academics’ feedback in designing PAS 2014, moving to a random sampling approach.

By Lewis Dartnell

Lewis Dartnell

Lewis  is a UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, and author of ‘Life in the Universe – A Beginner’s Guide’ and the illustrated children’s book ‘My Tourist's Guide to the Solar System’. This blog post was written as part of the series of posts on the latest Public Attitudes to Science survey being conducted by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Ipsos MORI.

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There is something about the stars, planets and galaxies in outer space that really seems to capture people’s imagination. And this certainly came across in the last Public Attitudes to Science (PAS) survey. Humanity has always been a curious species, constantly peering towards the horizon to wonder what lies beyond. A few centuries ago, courageous sailors set into the unknown to discover new lands and today we’re able to explore whole other worlds.

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