How do Australians engage with science?

27 May 2014

Commissioned by Inspiring Australia, designed and directed by CPAS Research Fellow Dr Suzette Searle, and conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs, this report provides the results of a 20 minute telephone survey of over1000 Australians about their general knowledge of Australian scientific and technological discoveries as well as attitudes to science and scientists.


Australians’ engagement with aspects of science and technology has received increasing research attention over the last decade. As written in The Inspiring Australia strategy (2010), ‘Australia aspires to an innovative society with a technologically skilled workforce, a scientifically literate community and well informed decision makers’ The strategy ‘aims to build a strong, open relationship between science and society, underpinned by effective communication of science and its uses’ (p. xiii).

Research Objectives

The Inspiring Australia research ‘Project C – Building on the Outcomes’ objective was to provide a nationally representative baseline of Australian attitudes toward and behaviours related to science and technology that could then be used to monitor any changes over time. Specific points of interest included understanding Australians’ awareness, interest and engagement with science and technology, understanding current and preferred sources of information about science and technology, and exploring attitudes towards a range of values associated with science and technology and whether science is regarded as a good career option.

Research Design

A computer assisted telephoning interviewing (CATI) methodology was used to administer an Australia-wide survey using a sampling frame sourced via random digit dialling. Pilot fieldwork was conducted to check that the survey was being administered as it should. A random sampling methodology was undertaken among Australians aged 18 and above. In total, n=1,020 participants completed the survey, where minimum quotas (based on ABS 2011 figures) for each target sample was met. The data collection period was from 11th of February through to 24th of February 2014 with an average survey length of 18 minutes.


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