Critical review of the United Kingdom’s “gold standard” survey of public attitudes to science

TitleCritical review of the United Kingdom’s “gold standard” survey of public attitudes to science
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSmith, BK, Jensen, EA
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Volume25
Issue2
Pagination154-170
Date PublishedFebruary 1, 2016
Publication Languageeng
AbstractSince 2000, the UK government has funded surveys aimed at understanding the UK public’s attitudes toward science, scientists, and science policy. Known as the Public Attitudes to Science series, these surveys and their predecessors have long been used in UK science communication policy, practice, and scholarship as a source of authoritative knowledge about science-related attitudes and behaviors. Given their importance and the significant public funding investment they represent, detailed academic scrutiny of the studies is needed. In this essay, we critically review the most recently published Public Attitudes to Science survey (2014), assessing the robustness of its methods and claims. The review casts doubt on the quality of key elements of the Public Attitudes to Science 2014 survey data and analysis while highlighting the importance of robust quantitative social research methodology. Our analysis comparing the main sample and booster sample for young people demonstrates that quota sampling cannot be assumed equivalent to probability-based sampling techniques.
URLhttp://pus.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/25/2/154
DOI10.1177/0963662515623248

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