Home

Copyright

Disclaimer

Home

The 2011 Report

The Department of State Development, Business and Innovation has been tracking community attitudes to and engagement with science since its benchmark study in 2007. In 2011 the Department commissioned Sweeney Research to undertake a state-wide survey of adult Victorians, following on from the survey conducted by Quantum Market Research in 2007. The full 2011 research report, Community Interest and Engagement with Science and Technology in Victoria 2011, and a short At a glance overview of the report are available.

The 2007 study, Community Interest and Engagement with Science and Technology in Victoria 2007, identified six population segments. Analysis of the 2011 data has shown these segments to be fairly good predictors of attitudes relating to science and technology. Find out more information about the segments.


The Interactive Data Tool

This interactive data tool is designed to allow a more dynamic exploration of the results of the 2011 study. Under the ‘Quantitative Results’ tabs, it allows you to filter results against different demographic characteristics and to make comparisons with the 2007 data. The ‘Other Charts’ tab also allows responses to one question plotted against responses to another, cut by demographic characteristics, or the general attitudinal orientation of members of different demographic groupings.


The Raw Data

Access to the raw SPSS data and survey tools used to generate this report is also provided on this website.


Copyright and the 2011 Report and Data

The data, graphs and charts are published on this website under a Creative Commons Attribution License. More information on what this means about republishing portions of the report, remixing content, building on the data or using graphs and charts created using the interactive data tool or the raw data is provided on this site.

Overview of Qualitative Findings

The qualitative research showed that there is a collection of generally held perceptions about science that tend to dominate community attitudes to and engagement with science.
Qualitative findings are also provided under each research theme (e.g. interest and engagement, information sources etc.)

The summary of the qualitative insights below has been derived from the focus group research, and highlights some of the themes that emerged during the conversations.

  • The Church of Science… is seen to have its own set of elaborate language, customs, rules, and concepts that are difficult to comprehend. For many, science can seem uninviting and confusing.
  • Contradictions = Uncertainty = Unscientific… many people believe that science is cold hard, mathematically derived fact. ‘Debate’ about science as it plays out in the media only serves to weaken the perception of something as scientific when it reduces the certainty of a given finding or position.
  • Appreciate the old more than the new… older (and often out-dated) science, such as Newton’s laws, are more widely understood and appreciated by the general public than more recent findings. It matters little that scientists still do not fully understand gravity – the predictions we can make with the theories are accurate. Climate science cannot tell us exactly how high sea levels will rise, or how quickly, and this uncertainty feeds doubts as to the veracity of the whole field.
  • Appreciate the old more than the new… older (and often out-dated) science, such as Newton’s laws, are more widely understood and appreciated by the general public than more recent findings. It matters little that scientists still do not fully understand gravity – the predictions we can make with the theories are accurate. Climate science cannot tell us exactly how high sea levels will rise, or how quickly, and this uncertainty feeds doubts as to the veracity of the whole field.
  • The Headlines… the public tend to want science in easily digestible factoids that can help to inform a worldview rather than lengthy or in-depth explanations that will lead to further confusion.
  • Limited sources… in general the public do not tend to cross check facts or pursue references, tending to have a more ‘faith based’ approach where that which is presented in the media is taken as gospel.
  • Not entirely relevant… although a majority are interested in at least one scientific field, science more broadly tends to be seen as a more esoteric pursuit – where interest exists, it tends not to run very deeply.
  • No ownership… there is little sense of ownership of science in the way that Victorians feel ownership of football; few feel collective pride in the achievements of (even Australian) scientists.

In addition to these perceptions, we see some broader societal trends that are having an influence on the consumption of science by the general public.

  • Information overload… we are increasingly swamped with information from a multitude of sources and via an increasing range of media. This means that we have less time and energy for irrelevant information. Unfortunately, for many people science is one of the topics classed as irrelevant.
  • Technological ubiquity… technology is increasingly at the centre of our lives, we are connected in ways and to a degree that we have never been before.
  • Talking heads… there has been an increasing media emphasis on experts and celebrities in the news media to deliver and discuss information about a broad range of different topics. In this vein, scientists, doctors and authors are increasingly seen and heard in the media – some are even successfully building personal brands.
  • Busy Lives… we need to manage our time carefully to ensure we can achieve our most important goals; often this means that we do not have time to get to all the things we would like to, and things that are less relevant or important fall by the wayside.
The Segments

The 2007 study, Community Interest and Engagement with Science and Technology in Victoria 2007, identified six population segments. Analysis of the 2011 data has shown these segments to be fairly good predictors of attitudes relating to science and technology.

The segments are defined below, along with their distribution in the Victorian population derived from the results of the 2011 study (click on the image below to enlarge):


The interactive data tool allows you to view responses to the survey questions for each segment of the population.

For more details about the segments, including profiles and case studies, see the full report.

Using the Raw Data

The raw data used to generate the interactive data tool and the Community Interest and Engagement with Science and Technology in Victoria 2011 report is available to download from this website.

The data is available in SPSS Version 12.0.1 format.

In providing access to the raw data we hope that we will enable other parties to carry out their own explorations of the state of science and technology engagement in Victoria.

Download the SPSS file.

The CATI questionnaires used in the 2007 and 2011 studies are also available


The 2011 report, graphs and charts are published under an Attribution Creative Commons License. More information on what this means about republishing portions of the report, remixing content, building on the data or using graphs and charts created using the interactive data tool or the raw data is provided on this site.

Disclaimer
  • The data, content and functionality presented in this website are intended as a public information resource only. The State of Victoria and Sweeney Research (together, ‘the Contributors’) do not accept legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to, the use of any data, information and/or functionality contained on this website or on any linked site.
  • The Contributors do not warrant, guarantee or represent that the data or information in this site is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. The Contributors recommend that you seek independent advice before acting on any data or information in this site.
  • The Contributors disclaim all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence, contract, breach of statutory duty or otherwise) for all expenses, losses, damage and costs you might incur as a result of using the information included on this website in any way for any reason, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.