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Science barometer 2015

results from the survey in 2015

As in 2014, the results of the Wissenschaftsbarometer 2015 show that Germans are generally interested in research and science with 36 per cent of respondents indicating a strong or somewhat strong interest in scientific issues.

The interest in science is also reflected in the information behaviour with regard to science and technology. The survey results here indicate that TV programmes as well as newspapers and magazines are still the most frequently used sources of information when it comes to science. Furthermore, Germans learn about science through conversations with friends and family and information on the internet. For a small minority lectures and discussions also play a role in keeping up with new developments in science and research.

In addition to the questions on interest and information behaviour, the Wissenschaftsbarometer also includes items covering the attitudes of the respondents towards science and research. In 2015 for example, 65 per cent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that science brings more benefits than harm. With regard to new and potentially useful technologies, which may also entail unknown risks, the respondents were split with one third being in favour of their development, one third being neutral and one third being against the further development of such technologies.

Such diverse perceptions can also be found in terms of trust in scientists. Only a small minority does not trust what scientists say about renewable energy, the origin of the universe or climate change but 51 per cent of respondents do not trust what scientist say about green genetic engineering (in plants).

Regarding the relations of the science sector with other sectors of society, the results of the Wissenschaftsbarometer show that a majority of Germans think that the influence of science on politics is much too low or somewhat too low. 42 per cent also hold the view that the public should be included more in decisions about science and technology.

When it comes to the cooperation of public research institutions such as universities with industry, more than three quarters of the respondents were of the opinion that such cooperation offers mostly advantages rather than disadvantages for science and the science system.

Methods and project background

The results of the science barometer 2015 are based on telephone interviews (land line) conducted by the social research firm TNS Emnid. Since the data was subjected to post-stratification weighting the results can be generalised to the German population aged over 14 years. 

Whilst in English the term ‘science’ is mostly used to refer to natural sciences, the German term ‘Wissenschaft’ refers to natural sciences as well as humanities and social sciences. The results presented here therefore apply for all fields of academic research (this was also stated in a short clarification by the interviewer at the beginning of the interview). 

The science barometer 2015 was funded by the Philip Morris Stiftung and methodological advice was provided by GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences. Detailed results of the science barometer are available in German.

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