The Swedish public’s trust in researchers at universities is rising. 84 percent say that they have fairly or very high trust, compared with 74 percent in the previous year. Nine out of ten Swedes believe it is important for the public to be involved in research and more than half would like personally to get involved, particularly in health research. These are some of the findings from the annual VA Barometer conducted by Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science).
“There is a fantastic commitment to research in Sweden. It is something we are also seeing a lot more of, due to an increasing number of initiatives that involve the public in research, such as citizen science and the EU’s concept of RRI – responsible research and innovation,” said Maria Lindholm, Director of Research at VA.
Public confidence in the potential of research to help solve various societal problems depends on the research field. 84 percent of Swedes believe that research could lead to more efficient and eco-friendly energy sources, while only 46 percent believe that research can help to improve the integration of refugees in Sweden.
Television and daily newspapers continue to be Swedes’ main source of news about science and research. Six out of ten say that they have high trust in science journalists, compared with four out of ten in news journalists.
The VA Barometer is based on 1,000 telephone interviews with a representative sample of the Swedish population aged 16–74. Interviews were carried out by market research company Exquiro. The 2015 survey is supported by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research and the EU-funded RRI Tools project. This is the 14th survey to be conducted since VA was founded in 2002. The questions asked in the interviews can be found on VA’s website.