The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has commissioned Ipsos MORI, in partnership with the British Science Association
, to carry out the latest study in its Public Attitudes to Science (PAS) series: PAS 2014. This new research is a follow-up to PAS 2011, also conducted by Ipsos MORI, and to the three previous studies conducted in 2008, 2005 and 2000.
In 2011, Ipsos MORI found that the UK public overwhelmingly valued science and the contribution it makes to society. Now, PAS 2014 takes place in a very different climate from the 2011 study. The last three years have seen prolonged periods of low economic growth, as well as an explosion in the use of Twitter, YouTube and other social media. This has taken place alongside key developments in science communication, including a wave of new science-related television programmes and growing audiences at science festivals. PAS 2014 will explore the effect these developments have had on public attitudes towards science, scientists and UK science policy.
This latest study will involve a nationally-representative face-to-face survey of UK adults aged 16+, plus an additional booster survey of 16-24 year-olds. There will be face-to-face qualitative research across the UK to explore the hypotheses generated by the survey results. As a new element not seen in previous studies, we are also hosting discussions and debates with the Ipsos MORI Connects online panel throughout the year.
Sarah Castell, Head of Qualitative Methods at Ipsos MORI said: “In PAS 2014, we'll find out not only the broadest views on science, but also pinpoint more nuanced and emergent public views – some of which might not have been spotted before. This study takes a highly multidisciplinary approach, which means we will build up a really rich picture of people's complex, and sometimes contradictory, attitudes to science.”
Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association said: “Public Attitudes to Science is an incredibly useful tool for a range of organisations. It not only shows to what extent certain groups of people hold common sets of values, but also identifies the areas where more can be done by our programmes. We are incredibly excited to be involved again this year and are looking forward to seeing the results in spring 2014.”
During the study, the British Science Association will be running a blog. This blog will include guest posts from influential science and cultural commentators in the UK, and will allow scientists, science communicators and policymakers to comment on the study and shape how we undertake PAS 2014. The final results will be published in 2014.