Survey on the public perception of science in Ibero American countries: The Ricyts' experience

  1. Carmelo Polino
  2. M. Fazio
  3. Juri Castelfranchi
Symposium:" What people around the world think and know about science", Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:" The Nexus Where Science Meets Society", Washington, DC, USA.

Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Year of publication: 2005

Pages: 1-20

Type: Conference paper


The massive survey has become an institutionalized instrument for analyzing public perceptions of science & technology in many countries around the world. Some Ibero American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Portugal & Spain) have conducted national surveys on this social relevant topic in the recent past years. The Network on Science and Technology Indicators (RICYT/CYTED) has been supporting a process oriented to allow researchers and countries in the region to review and incorporate concepts, instruments and methodologies involved in this field of study. RICYT has three main goals: the first one, to analyze the complex meaning of the scientific culture within the modern societies. The second one, to develop indicators both internationally comparable and specific at the regional level. The third one, to produce relevant information for decision-making processes and promoting social participation and democratizing science & technology. RICYT has developed qualitative studies related to citizen participation, social sources of scientific information, social perception of risk and the institutional level of the scientific culture. This kind of research is a complement of the surveys to cover the complex relationship between science and society. RICYT also has carried out a methodological survey performed with OEI (IberoAmerican States Organization) in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Spain. The survey’s experience was applied at the first national survey in Argentina (2003), Colombia (2004) and Venezuela (2004). As a result of this process, a regional network belonging RICYT was created. This network currently involves more than thirty institutions in fifteen countries. This paper shows, in first place, both a review of the RICYT’s historical development and current situtaion, and the public perceptions of science indicators in that context. Posteriorly, it exhibits conceptual and methological dimensiones of this issue from the RICYT’s experience. After that, this text exposes some comparable results from regional studies and, in particular, the survey conducted in Argentina. Finally, it argues the need for strengthening the field of study, considering the public perception of science as a part of a composite model of scientific culture whitin society. Furthermore, the knowledge accumulated by RICYT and other international institutions allows us to argue