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Goals and methodology

If there was an election this weekend, who would you vote for? How do you see the current economic situation in Germany? Asking people about their opinions is standard practice in politics and economics. But until recently, there was no regular opinion polling to look at trends in attitudes towards science and research. To fill this gap Wissenschaft im Dialog started the German science barometer in 2014 to regularly measure citizen’s attitudes to science and research. 

Idea

In 2014 a survey was developed for the science barometer following standards used in the social sciences. The survey asks respondents about various topic areas, for example: how strong is their interest in science; which channels do they use to inform themselves; how do they weigh the risks and benefits of research for society; and how much do they want to be involved in or participate in science and research? The science barometer surveys for 2014, 2015 and 2016 were based on this scaffold. The survey was carried out by a market research company via telephone interviews (landlines). The results are representative for German residents aged over 14 years.

Further development

To better facilitate research using the survey data and results, the science barometer is being further developed in 2017. The update will make it easier to compare the survey with others in Europe, for example the science barometers in Switzerland or Sweden. Better international comparisons will make earlier identification of both international trends and developments specific to Germany possible. 

The updates will be informed by a scientific advisory group including Dr Melanie Smallman (UCL), Dr Maria Lindholm (VA barometer), Professor Rainer Bromme (Universität Münster), Professor Mike Schäfer and Professor Julia Metag (Wissenschaftsbarometer Schweiz). 

From 2017 the German science barometer is funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. 

Goals

In addition to questions about the opinions and behaviours of citizens with regard to science and research, the science barometer also includes questions about current issues. This makes it possible to quickly obtain up-to-date information about people’s attitudes and opinions towards new technologies or current issues. In the future, regular surveys are planned to measure changes in attitudes and opinions on science and research. 

The information from the science barometer is useful to scientific research institutes, universities, scientists, companies active in research, policy makers and science communicators. Regular surveys inform them about the attitudes, wishes and interests that people of different ages and from different social groups have towards science and research. Knowing early how the public is responding to new scientific findings and technologies allows for appropriate responses.