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News CPC March for Science Survey

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March participants interested in both promoting, defending science

​The study, conducted from March 31 to April 18, surveyed 1,040 members of March for Science Facebook groups or pages about their reasons for marching in the April 22 events.

MAY 9, 2017 -- When an unprecedented coalition of organizations, activists, actors, and scientists participated in the March for Science in Washington, DC, on April 22, 2017, a University of Delaware team of researchers was there to survey participants. This fieldwork followed a pre-march study that examined why people planned to participate in the March for Science. The March 31 to April 18 study concluded that event participants wanted not only to support and celebrate science but to also to defend the role of science in policy and society.

On Saturday, April 22, CPC research director and communication professor Paul Brewer and a team of five graduate students from the departments of Communication and Political Science traveled to Washington, DC, to conduct the survey in various locations at the National Mall. Of the 184 participants surveyed, 58% of the participants said they considered themselves to be scientists, while some 42% of the respondents did not. Most (61%) learned about the event through Facebook, 46% learned about it through face-to-face conversations, and just 30% of participants learned about it from the news. Participants indicated that the march had inspired more activity on social media, and 70% of respondents said they had joined or followed a March for Science group, page, or hashtag on social media. The march also encouraged an increase in discourse about science. Most respondents (78%) said that their participation in the March for Science made them more likely to discuss science with people they knew, while 74% said that they would contact their lawmakers about science. A majority (71%) said that they follow news about science, and 70% of respondents claimed that they write messages about science on social media. Brewer said, "The survey results highlight the crucial role of social media in mobilizing Americans to join the March for the Science. The findings also suggest that participating in the march encouraged greater engagement with science and public life through a variety of channels."

UD study examines motivations of March for Science participants

Encouraging science-based policies and defending science from political attacks are strong motivators for March for Science participants, according to a new University of Delaware Center for Political Communication survey. The survey was conducted online from March 31 to April 18. The 1,040 respondents were recruited from 81 different participating March for Science Facebook groups and pages (see full list below).

Fully 93 percent of respondents said “opposing political attacks on the integrity of science” would be very important to them as a reason for participating in a March for Science event. At the same time, 97 percent of respondents said that “encouraging public officials to make policies based on scientific facts and evidence” was a top priority, and 93 percent said the same for “encouraging the public to support science."

Other reasons that most respondents rated as very important included “protesting cuts to funding for scientific research” (90 percent), “celebrating the value of science and scientists to society” (89 percent) and “promoting science education and scientific literacy among the public” (86 percent).

Fewer respondents ranked “encouraging scientists to engage the public” (70 percent) and “encouraging diversity and inclusion in science” (68 percent) as highly. Nevertheless, solid majorities said these reasons were very important.

The survey also asked respondents why they had joined or followed March for Science pages, groups or hashtags on social media. Not surprisingly, the top reason (93 percent) was “to learn about March for Science events.” A majority (54 percent) also said they joined “to connect with people who share my views.”

Other common reasons for joining or following included “to become more involved in politics or policy-making” (45 percent), “to learn about other online advocacy and activism opportunities” (41 percent), “to learn about issues facing scientists and scientific institutions” (36 percent) and “to learn about other offline advocacy and activism opportunities” (32 percent). Only a small percentage of respondents (12 percent) said they joined or followed “to learn about science.”

When asked whether their experiences with March for Science social media pages, groups or hashtags had made them more likely to participate in science advocacy, 78 percent of respondents said yes for online advocacy and 74 percent said yes for offline advocacy. In addition, large majorities said their experiences had made them more likely to like or share (76 percent), read (70 percent) and write (64 percent) messages about science on social media.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) said their experiences with March for Science social media had made them more likely to contact public officials about science. Majorities also said their experiences had made them more likely to discuss science with people they knew (59 percent) and to follow news about science (55 percent).

The results of the study will be used to develop future research studies, papers to be submitted to academic conferences and journals, and a book. This study was supervised by Barbara Ley, a professor in the Department of Communication and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware, and Paul Brewer, a professor in the Department of Communication and research director at the Center for Political Communication. The study also received support from the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication.

The study did not use probability sampling to select respondents; as a result, no sampling error for the study can be calculated, and the results do not necessarily generalize to all March for Science Facebook group and page members. Of the respondents, 82 percent were residents of the United States and 18 percent were residents of other countries. A large majority (81 percent) identified as women, with 18 percent identifying as men, and 1 percent as other. Half (50 percent) of the respondents said they considered themselves scientists.

Please contact Barbara Ley at bley@udel.edu for more details about the survey’s methodology.

Participating March for Science Facebook groups and pages

Arkansas; Atlanta, GA; Atlantic City, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Berlin, Germany; Boston, MA; Bratislava, Slovakia; Brussels, Belgium; Buffalo, NY; Cape Town, South Africa; Champaign-Urbana, IL; Charleston, SC; Charlottesville, VA; Cleveland, OH; Copenhagen, Denmark; Denver, CO; Des Moines, IA ; Duluth, MN ; Dunedin, New Zealand ; Estonia; Fargo (ND)/Moorhead (MN); Grand Rapids, MI; Guam; Halifax, Canada; Hamilton, Canada; Houston, TX; India; Indianapolis, IN; Iowa; Irish STEM Solidarity with US; Jackson, MS; Kalamazoo, MI; Kansas City, MO; Las Cruces, NM; Las Vegas, NV; Lexington, KY; Lisbon, Portugal; Lithuania; London, United Kingdom; Los Angeles, CA; Louisiana; Louisville, KY; Luxembourg; Milwaukee, WI; Mobile, AL; Newark, DE; Nigeria; Norway; Oklahoma; Omaha, NE; Panama; Paris, France; Puerto Rico; Philadelphia, PA; Philippines; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Raleigh, NC; Reykjavík, Iceland; Rhode Island; Riverside, CA; Rochester, NY; Rome, Italy; Rutgers at Trenton, NJ; St. Louis, MO; São Paulo, Brazil; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Seville, Spain; Silicon Valley, CA; South Bend, IN; Space Coast, FL; Sydney, Australia; Taiwan; Tokyo, Japan; Trinidad and Tobago; Uganda; Vancouver, Canada; Vermont; Virtual March for Science; West Palm Beach, FL

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A University of Delaware team of researchers traveled to Washington, DC, on April 22, 2017, to survey March for Science participants.

When an unprecedented coalition of organizations, activists, actors, and scientists participated in the March for Science in Washington, DC, on April 22, 2017, a University of Delaware team of researchers was also there to survey participants.

5/9/2017
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