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Listening to the Public

Working to the first strand of our strategy, ‘Recognising and responding to public views’, the Research Councils fund a variety of activities which aim to identify public attitudes and values through the lifecycle of research and foster debate that will enable public aspirations and concerns to help inform Councils' policies and research strategies.

RCUK Initiatives:

RCUK Dialogue Review
Research Councils UK conducted a review of public dialogue, consultations, and other public engagement exercises commissioned by the Research Councils since 2003. The purpose was to reflect on what has worked, in what ways dialogues have contributed to the goals of RCUK’s public engagement strategy, and what considerations should be given to designing the next phase of RCUK public dialogue support.

Doing Public Dialogue: A support resource for research council staff
This guide   is designed to give practical advice for research council staff who are involved, will be involved, or are interested in designing and delivering public dialogues. These dialogues could be for their research programmes, the conduct of research, or in governance and regulation of a research programme.

Open Data Public Dialogue
Undertaken on the behalf of the Research Councils UK in partnership with JISC, the Royal Society and Sciencewise-ERC, this public dialogue explored views on open data, data reuse and data management policies within research.

Planet Under Pressure
The Planet under Pressure 2012 conference focused on solutions to the global sustainability challenge. It aimed to provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Rio +20 conference and identify opportunities for enhanced partnerships between research, policy, industry and the public. The University of East Anglia, the British Science Association, Research Councils UK and Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre developed the Youth Voice Project to ensure the perspective and voice of young people was presented at the conference, and supported 12 young people prepare and present a speech at the opening ceremony of the Planet under Pressure.

Synthetic Biology Public Dialogue
BBSRC and EPSRC, with funding from Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre, commissioned the British Market Research Bureau to conduct a public dialogue on synthetic biology.

Geoengineering Public Dialogue
NERC, in partnership with Sciencewise-ERC, carried out a public dialogue on geoengineering to assess public opinion on how future research relating to the subject should be directed, conducted and communicated.

Other Initiatives:

Public Attitudes to Science 2014 Survey
Public Attitudes to Science 2014 is a national study commissioned by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It is the fifth survey in a series. Previous surveys reported in 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2011. The research is aimed at understanding the UK public’s attitudes to science, scientists and science policy.

The 2011 study included:

  • A review of existing literature
  • Four sets of reconvened deliberative workshops
  • A survey of 1800 people across the UK
  • Qualitative focus groups

The survey was published in March 2011. You can download a copy of the 2011 survey (full report and summary) as well as the data files from Ipsos Mori’s website here: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/2764/Public-attitudes-to-science-2011. The 2008 survey was commissioned in partnership with RCUK.

For copies of the 2005 and 2000 reports please visit the BIS website.


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