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Wellcome Trust Monitor

The Wellcome Trust Monitor is a unique survey of the views of UK adults and young people (aged 14-18) on science, biomedical research and science education. So far two waves have been conducted, the first in 2009 and the second in 2012. The findings are representative of the UK population and provide fresh and significant insights to inform science communication practice and how research priorities might be shaped, building a better understanding of the societal and educational context of biomedical research. Wave 3 will be conducted in 2015, and we will keep this page updated with news on its current status and how you can get involved.

The Monitor asks over 150 questions – some tasters of the responses from Wave 2 are below.

Public opinion on biomedical research topics:

“48% of adults said they had a good understanding of the term DNA, compared with only 12% who said they had a good understanding of the term ‘human genome’”

“Attitudes towards the safety of recommended vaccinations vary with different levels of science knowledge – those who know more are less likely to agree vaccinations carry a high risk (5% compared with 22% of people with lower scientific knowledge)”

How the public engages with science:

“61% of adults are interested in the development of new drugs, compared with 48% of young people. However, 58% of young people are interested in how the brain works, compared with 45% of adults”

Public interest and opinion on medical research:

“22% of adults report they or a someone in their household have taken part in a medical research project”

“92% of adults and 95% of young people believe medical research will improve the quality of life”

Science education:

“82% of young people said school science lessons were very or fairly interesting”

“Young men do more work experience in STEM fields than young women – 35% for young men compared with 21% for young women”

Check out our Resources to download infographics with more headline findings, the full reports, data and technical reports for both Waves 1 and 2.

The Wellcome Trust Monitor is repeated every three years and a large proportion of the questions recur in each wave. The aim of this tracking survey is to build a high-quality evidence base that explores trends and variations across time on both general scientific themes and specific societal issues. This robust study also seeks to develop a more systematic approach to describing and understanding current interest in, attitudes towards and knowledge of science. There is flexibility within each wave to include a number of additional questions to explore new and topical areas of interest.

Have you used the Monitor findings?

There are a number of ways to follow developments about the Wellcome Trust Monitor and we would greatly appreciate any feedback on the findings and your usage of the data. Social scientists may wish to access the full datasets.

The Wellcome Trust offers funding for social science research through our Medical Humanities programme. Find out more about our range of funding schemes.

We would appreciate you letting us know if you’ve used data from the Monitor in reports, research or presentations via social media, or by emailing Nancy Wilkinson at n.wilkinson@wellcome.ac.uk.Social media links: @WellcomeTrust@WTeducation#WTMonitorFacebookFlickr


The full programme of work and data from the Wellcome Trust Monitor are freely available to view, use and share.

Wave 2

Wave 2 was conducted in 2012 by Ipsos MORI who interviewed 1,396 adults and 460 young people.

Report summaries: Wave 2 infographic summaries on: Biomedical research topics [PDF 807KB]; Engaging with science [PDF 240KB]; Science education [PDF 573KB]; and Medical research and the public [PDF 269KB].

Research reports: Wave 2 (with hyperlinked data) [Word 11.8MB];  Wave 2 [PDF 5MB]

Technical reports: Wave 2 (with hyperlinked data) [Word 2.77MB];  Wave 2 [PDF 650KB]

Technical report appendices
Appendix A: Cognitive testing and pilot survey documents -  Wave 2 [Word 2.66MB]

Appendix B: Main stage fieldwork documents -  Wave 2 [Word 3.58MB]

Appendix C: Editing and coding documents -  Wave 2 [Word 1.64MB]

Appendix D: Questionnaire and showcards -  Wave 2 [Word 2.42MB]

Core data tables: Results from each  Wave 2 question [Excel 2.63MB]

Full datasets
Wave 1 and Wave 2 datasets can be accessed on the UK Data Service - search for 'Wellcome Trust Monitor'.

Wave 1 

Wave 1 (the baseline survey) was conducted in 2009 by the National Centre for Social Research who interviewed 1,179 adults and 374 young people.

Report summary: Wave 1 key findings [PDF 192 KB]

Research report: Wave 1 [PDF 2.2MB; updated November 2012] 

Technical report: Wave 1 [PDF 1.3 MB] 

Technical report appendices
Appendix A: Cognitive testing and pilot survey documents -  Wave 1 [Word 292KB]

Appendix B: Main stage fieldwork documents -  Wave 1 [Word 828KB]

Appendix C: Editing and coding documents -  Wave 1 [Word 216KB]

Appendix D: Questionnaire and showcards -  Wave 1 [Word 2.07MB]

Appendix E: Derived variables -  Wave 1 [Word 44KB]

Related research

The Wellcome Trust commissioned a number of studies following up on areas of interest from the Wave 1 results. These have resulted in several publications:

Allum N, Sibley E, Sturgis P, Stoneman P. Religious beliefs, knowledge about science and attitudes towards medical genetics. Public Understanding of Science forthcoming. Download a preprint [PDF 733 KB].

National Foundation for Educational Research. Exploring young people’s views on science education. Wellcome Trust; 2011.

Stoneman P, Sturgis P, Allum N. Exploring public discourses about emerging technologies through statistical clustering of open-ended survey questions. Public Understanding of Science 2012 April. Download a draft version [PDF 124KB].

Stoneman P, Sturgis P, Allum N. Understanding support for complementary and alternative medicine in general populations: use and perceived efficacy. PLoS ONE, in press. Download a draft version [PDF 68KB].

Stoneman P, Sturgis P, Allum N, Sibley E. Incommensurable worldviews? Is public use of complementary and alternative medicines incompatible with support for science and conventional medicine? Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, in press.  Download a draft version [PDF 72KB].

Past and present members of the Wellcome Trust Monitor External Advisory Board

Dr Nick Allum, Senior Lecturer, University of Essex (Waves 1 and 2)

Professor Louise Archer, Professor of Sociology and Education, King's College London (Wave 2)

Professor Fran Balkwill, Centre Lead for Translational Oncology, Institute of Cancer at Barts and the London Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry (Wave 1)

Dr Julie Barnett, Senior Research Fellow of Psychology, University of Surrey (Wave 1)

Professor Massimiano Bucchi, Professor of Science in Society, University of Trento and Observa (Waves 1 and 2)

Dr Cary Funk, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center (Wave 2)

Dr Andy Futreal, Co-Head of the Cancer Genome Project, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (Wave 1)

George Gaskell, Pro-director Planning and Resources, London School of Economics (Wave 2)

Sir Roger Jowell, Research Professor, City University London, and Founding Director, Centre for Comparative Social Surveys (Wave 1)

Professor Jon Miller, John A Hannah Professor of Integrative Studies, Michigan State University (Wave 1)

Professor Clive Nancarrow, Professor of Marketing Research, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England (Wave 1)

Professor Geraint Rees, Group Leader, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging and Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (Wave 1)

Professor Michael Reiss, Professor of Science Education, Institute of Education, University of London (Wave 1)

Professor Dietram A Scheufele, John E Ross Professor in Science Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Nanotechnology in Society (Wave 2)

Dr Camilla Schriener, Principal Researcher, University of Oslo (Wave 1)

Professor Svein Sjoberg, Professor in Science Education, University of Oslo (Wave 1)

Professor Patrick Sturgis, Professor of Research Methodology, University of Southampton, and Director of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (Principal Investigator for Wave 1 and 2)

Dr Saffron Townsend, Senior Science and Society Manager, Research Councils UK (Wave 1)

Dr Stephen Webster, Lecturer in Science Communication, Imperial College London (Wave 1)

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