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Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Judit Mosoni-Fried Institute for Research Organisation Hungarian Academy of Sciences (IRO-HAS)

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Presentation on theme: "Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Judit Mosoni-Fried Institute for Research Organisation Hungarian Academy of Sciences (IRO-HAS)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Judit Mosoni-Fried Institute for Research Organisation Hungarian Academy of Sciences (IRO-HAS)

2 Motto: „Scientists participating in PUS activities are not primarily motivated by a sense of duty but do it because they enjoy it.” (Gillian Pearson) PUS research (i)to understand the views of the general public towards science[1][1] (ii)to understand the scientists’ attitude towards science communication and dialogue Significant results of attitude research (Hungary, Sweden, UK): Researchers value a dialogue with the public Researchers regard communication on their own research as mainly their duty Researchers feel that the public primarily trusts (university) researchers Researchers feel that the media and the scientific community should handle the dialogue together [1] Tamás Pál (2000): A tudomány és a technológia társadalmi képe a 90-es évek Magyarországán. Oktatási Minisztérium, Budapest Gallup (2003): EUROBAROMETER, Fábri György (2004): Tudomány, közvélemény, média. Magyar Tudomány (11):

3 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey The Role of Scientists in Public Debate A British survey by MORI Commissioner: the Wellcome Trust Methodology: face-to face interviews with 1540 scientists in Respondents: researchers from higher education institutions and Research Council-funded establishments in biological, medical and environmental research Dialogue between researchers and the public[1][1] A Hungarian survey by IRO-HAS Commissioner: the Encompass Project Methodology: on-line questionnaires and face-to face interviews in Respondents: researchers from the IRO-HAS register [1][1] Mosoniné Fried Judit, Tolnai Márton (szerk.): A tudományon kívül és belül. MTA KSZI Budapest, Mosoniné Fried Judit, Pálinkó Éva, Stefán Eszter (2004): Kommunikáció a kutatók és a laikusok között: a kutatók szerepe. Világosság (5): 5-24.

4 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Objective: to see whether the scientists in the sample  recognise a need to communicate their research to the public  are ready to discuss the social and ethical implications arising from their work  consider themselves to be the most responsible people to communicate about science to the public  regard their media representation as satisfying  are able to identify the benefits and drawbacks of greater public debate on science  are willing to handle the dialogue in co-operation with the media?

5 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey The Hungarian sample: 1182 researchers as members of the public law association of HAS Total sample: 5500 members with address from our register 21,2% response rate Each field of science Each type of research institutions (universities, HAS institutes, other public research institutions, business sector research units) About 30 face-to-face interviews Disciplinary distribution of respondents Discipline% Agricultural science Biological science Philosophy and history Physics Geological sciences Economics and law Chemistry Engineering Mathematics and computer sciences Linguistics and literature Medical science n.a. Total ,

6 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Key findings:  The vast majority of scientists (76%) acknowledge the importance of communication with the public. They feel that laypeople may be involved in discussions on the social and ethical implications of given research areas (dialogue is needed). Young researchers and female scientists are the main supporters of dialogue.  Nearly half of the scientists think that the public primarily trusts scientists working at PROs (incl. universities) to provide accurate information about scientific questions (It is confirmed by Fábri György’s survey with Hungarian citizens[1]). Science communicators in the media and civil organisations also received high ratings, while policy-makers received low rating.[1]  55% of respondents have participated at least in one form of media communication in Most of them contributed to regional TV programs. In general, scientists consider their media representation as unsatisfying.  Half of the scientists say that a better understanding of science enables the public to make informed decisions about their lives. In their view this is the main benefit of communication for the non-specialist public.  Benefit for scientists: 53% of the respondents think that being in personal contact with people outside the scientific circle is the main benefit of public dialogue.  One in three respondents feel that better understanding of science decreases distrust in science  Most scientists think that the public use television for the main source of information about scientific research. [1][1] Fábri György (2005): Tudomány és közvélemény: a tudomány kommunikációjának konzervatív forradalma? Világosság (1): 3-14.

7 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Who should inform the general public on the social and ethical implications of certain research fields? (3 replies pro respondents) Responsible specialists/organisations % Mainly the researchers Science communicators Journalists Government bodies Researchers of ethical issues Social scientists Policy-makers Churches

8 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey QuestionHungaryUKRemarks Sources of information about science. Top 3 in Hungary plus the internet:  TV programmes  Newspapers  Radio  The internet In the UK: national newspapers In Hungary: daily newspapers In the UK: radio news In Hungary: radio programs Public trust (social and ethical implications). Top 3 in Hungary:  Scientists in universities  Journalists  Scientists working for civil organisations In Hungary: scientists in the public sector (incl. universities). In the UK: journalists working for the popular scientific press In the UK: scientists working for health charities Main benefits to better understanding of science. Top 3 in Hungary:  informed decisions for laypeople  knowledge is a benefit in itself  informed decisions for policy-makers n.a Personal benefits to communicating research to laypeople. Top 3 in Hungary:  helps co-operation with non-scientists  gives useful, individual information  helps modifying research topics n.a. In the UK:  helps the career (32%)  attracts possible funding (29%)  provides satisfaction/enjoyment (22%)

9 Dialogue between researchers and the public: online survey Conclusion: Scientists in Hungary value a dialogue with the public. In spite of this they are more for education and public understanding than for public engagement. As in many other countries we should do much more for improving the culture of information and dialogue between scientists, science policy- makers and the wider public.

10 Thank you for your attention


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