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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."
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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
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).
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.”
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.”
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about the survey’s methodology.
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