Science and Media: Opportunities to Share Research with the Broader Public

General Overview
Study Date:
1.26.21-2.24.21
Geographic Coverage:
United States
Expertise:
29% Biology14% Civil and Environmental Engineering9% Geography 48% Public Health
Response Overview
Sample Size:
3,302
Valid Responses:
508
Response rate:
15.5%
Date initial findings posted:
4.15.21
Most recent update:
4.15.21
Days survey in field:
28
Average response time:
13 mins
Survey Demographics
Respondent Demographics:
40% Female60% Male100% Academic0% Industry
Language(s):
English

The survey sample was weighted by gender and academic field to represent the population as closely as possible. The measure of sampling error for questions answered by the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

This survey, conducted by SciOPS in partnership with AAAS SciLine, is on scientists’ perspectives on science communication and media engagement. This survey aims to understand scientists’ experiences with and opinions about interacting with the news media. The survey covers scientists’ past interview experiences, the benefits, and risks of interacting with media, as well as their perspectives about media communications at their universities.

Question
In your opinion, how useful/attractive do you think the following options are for providing information about your research to the broader public (N=469)
this graph shows scientists' perspectives on the benefits of certain media outlets to share their research with the general public (data from Science and Media Survey, SciOPS 2021)

For scientists, the three most useful sources for providing information about their research to the broader public are through:

  • Newspaper, radio, or television newscasts (60%)
  • University websites and social media (46%)
  • College or department websites and social media (41%)

Less than one-quarter of the scientists find information from online newsletters sent to listservs (23%) and online platforms such as “The Conversation” (21%) useful for providing information to the broader public.

Question
About how frequently do you post about your research online (e.g. social media, blogs, linked in posts)? (N=484)
this graph shows how often scientist that responded to this survey share their research on social media or other web platforms in 2021.

35% of scientists post online about their research more than once per week, while another 35% only post online one time a year about their research.

One in ten (10%) of the scientists never post online about their research.

Question
Have you ever received a follow-up from a newspaper, radio or television station related to something you posted on social media or your personal website about your research (N=484)

Most scientists have never received a follow-up from a newspaper, radio, or television station related to topics that they posted online to their social media pages or personal website (72%).

Question
Do you follow social media accounts of other scientists? (N = 489)

 

Slightly more than half of the respondents (51%) follow social media accounts of other scientists.

A gender level analysis shows that female respondents tend to follow other scientists’ social media accounts (57%) more than male respondents (47%).

Question
Where do you get your science related news? (N = 490)
graph showing the media sources scientists' rely on most for their science news

Two-thirds of the scientists (66%) get information from national newspapers, and over one-half (60%) get information from the news section of scientific journals.

Around 21% of scientists get information from local radio and TV news.

Question
How effectively does media coverage of science represent the diversity of the scientific community in terms of the following? (N = 479)
graph showing scientists perspectives on how the media reports on the diversity of the scientific community

The majority of scientists agree that media coverage of science does not effectively represent the diversity of the scientific community.

Among various aspects of diversity in the science community, gender diversity is the topic that most scientists responded is most effectively covered by media is  (18%).

How effectively does media coverage of science represent the diversity of the scientific community in terms of the following? (N = 479) (Differences between genders)
graph showing scientists responses on media representation of diversity in science, grouped by gender

More men (27%) believe that gender diversity topics are extremely effectively or very effectively covered by media as compared to women (12%)

More men (12%) than women (2%) report that racial diversity is effectively covered by media.

Question
In the past month, have you read, heard or watched a general media report that covers scientific topics in your field? (N = 485)

 

In the past month, 86% of respondents have read, heard, or watched a general media report that covers scientific topics in their field.

As compared to biologists (79%), civil engineers (85%), and geographers (87.5%), public health scholars (89%) reported encountering general media reports relate to their field most often.

Question
Thinking about this most recent media report, please evaluate how accurately the information was reported based on the following questions. (N = 408)
graph showing scientists' perception of accuracy in science news reporting

The majority of the scientists responded that the information  reported was only somewhat complete (51%). However, the majority also responded that the information was extremely or very up-to-date (72%), clear (58%), and objective (53%).

Survey Description

This national survey on science and media was conducted by the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies at Arizona State University and designed in collaboration with AAAS SciLine. The population for the survey represents a random sample of PhD-level faculty in four fields of science. Three fields– biology and genetics, civil and environmental engineering, and geography –were collected from 81 randomly selected Carnegie-designated Research Extensive and Intensive (R1) universities in the United States (US).

Public health faculty were collected from the full population of 62 universities with an accredited Public Health department. Public Health sub-disciplines included data science and statistics; health practice; science and medicine; social and behavioral sciences; organization, management, and policy. The final sample included contact information for 3,303 scientists. A total of 508 usable responses were obtained, representing an AAPOR response rate (RR4) of 15.5%.

Sample weighting and Precision: the completed sample was weighted by the inverse of selection probabilities and post-stratified by gender and academic field to represent the population as closely as possible. A conservative measure of sampling error for questions answered by the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points. The survey was approved by Institutional Review Boards at Arizona State University and at the University of Illinois at Chicago.