And after consulting the citizens … what happens?

Months of intense work culminated in December with the first phase of the CONCISE project: the organisation of five citizen consultations in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Slovakia whose objective was to listen and find out how citizens form their scientific opinions. But what happens after the 500 citizens have shared their points of view on science?

The 58 round tables on climate change, vaccines, alternative and complementary medicines and genetically modified organisms have generated more than 500 hours of discussion. To be able to work with the data and study them, it was necessary to fully transcribe the conversations, which has resulted in more than 3,500 pages. To guarantee the confidentiality of all participants, all texts have been anonymised and encrypted.

These transcripts will allow different types of lexicometric analysis to be carried out in the coming months, that is, statistical analyses based on the frequency with which a word is used in the discourse and what are the terms that are more -or less- frequently related to it.

The Observa research team, responsible for the consultation in Italy, have already published some of these conclusions that can be consulted on the project website. This first approach to the discourse carried out in Italy has allowed the research team to discover, for example, that in relation to the information process, citizenship not only refers to traditional and digital media, but also emphasises the interpersonal relationships and daily spaces.

Over the next few months, two books will be published offering the main conclusions of the consultations, as well as several articles that will be available on the ScienceFlows website and on the ConciseH2020 website.

The numbers of the consultations

For the selection of the invited citizens, the demographic diversity of each country was taken into account, so that it was as representative as possible. Thus, in the case of the Valencia consultation, 58 women and 44 men participated. Among the participants were 10 nationalities present, from 38 different municipalities.

In total people from 20 nationalities and residents in 194 different municipalities have participated in the 5 countries.

 The CONCISE project

The objective of the project is not to find out the degree of scientific knowledge of citizens, but rather to know what factors and elements influence citizens when it comes to forming a scientific opinion. In addition, the project also aims to find out what channels citizens use to acquire scientific information and what their opinions and attitudes are towards science.

Each of the consultations revolved around four topics that currently generate some social controversy: climate change, vaccines, alternative and complementary therapies and genetically modified organisms.

Translation: Amaia Crespo