Ensuring trust in science – Why perceived motives and the motivation of researchers are important in science communication?

Author: Ricarda Ziegler – Wissenschaft im Dialog, Germany

Trust in science and researchers has become an important topic lately. Science communication has risen to unusual heights on the agenda of the scientific system and science policy-making not least in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic with political measures to fight it often being science-based.

Since its establishment in 2014 and also in three survey waves conducted in 2020, the German representative survey on public science attitudes – the science barometer – has included different questions around the concept of trust in science.

One aspect which comes up regularly here, as well as in other surveys, is the role which researchers’ motives, the orientation of science towards the public interest and the dependence of researchers on their funders play when it comes to (dis-)trusting science. In this talk, results from the science barometer will be presented focusing on perceived motives and benevolence of scientists as well as on stakeholders driving research agendas in the eyes of respondents. Apart from results of close-ended questions and agreement levels for relevant items, results from open-ended questions will be presented on what constitutes a good researcher and who are the funders of research according to the respondents’ best knowledge. The results will be put into the context of trust in science and used to argue for transformative processes within science communication practice.

Thus far, a shift from only sharing results towards also communicating scientific methods and processes has been proclaimed as part of the solution for ensuring trust in science. However, it will be claimed that science communication should entail even more and that there should be a greater effort to communicate motivations of researchers for working in science.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Transformation