2020 Survey: Americans Think Scientists Should Inform the Public About Research


Since our founding more than 30 years ago, a key strategy tool in Research!America's advocacy for science and medical  research has been influencing public opinion. As President Abraham Lincoln said, “…public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” 

Over our 28 years of commissioning surveys, Research!America has asked a wide variety of questions about the importance of scientists informing the public and elected officials about their research and its impacts.

In August 2020, our survey asked: "How important is it for scientists to inform the public about their research and its impact on society?" In response, 8 in 10 Americans indicate that it is "very" or "somewhat" important for scientists to inform the public about their research. 

Past surveys asked about the importance of informing both elected officials and the public about research and its impacts on society. In 2020, we wanted to know specifically about elected officials and the public, without confounding one with the other. A total of 80% of the public felt it was important to inform elected officials. This was consistent from the last time that question was asked on a nationwide survey in 2017. 

For information about communicating about research, check out our survey data. Researchers can also find important information about communicating about and advocating for research on our website.


This blog post was updated in December 2020.

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco