Representative FNR survey : Trust in science and research increases in Luxembourg
Every two years, the FNR commissions a survey study to understand the level of notoriety and the perception of the Luxembourg research community among the general public. Discover the latest findings !
The FNR has been repeating this survey at regular intervals since 2007. A statistically representative sample of the local population is asked, among other things, whether they trust research and science, are interested in it, feel well or poorly informed and how they assess the impact of research and science on our lives. This year, a question was also asked about the role of science in politics.
Below is a brief summary of the results of the current survey, which was conducted in March 2023.
Key results of the survey at a glance
Increasing level of trust
- Trust in science and research has increased again among the Luxembourg population, from 70% in 2021 to 75% in 2023.
- Researchers also still enjoy the highest level of trust (92%) compared to doctors, teachers, judges, the media and politicians.
- Trust in information on science and research disseminated by both science and research actors and the press also remains high, but it is higher if it’s disseminated directly by the research institution.
Continued interest, need for information and support for investments
- Interest in science and research in Luxembourg has been steadily increasing since 2013, but there is still an information deficit among the people : 58% do not feel well enough informed about it.
- The vast majority of the people (92%) continues to support investment in the local research landscape.
- People still agree that research has an impact on society, and not only in economic terms.
- The value of scientific findings for political decision-making seems to be widely confirmed by the people.
- Still a slight majority of the people (53%) think that especially children in primary school are not sufficiently educated in science.
Good notoriety of the actors and initiatives
- The FNR remains the second best known main stakeholder of the Luxembourg science and research landscape. 69% of the people know or have heard of the FNR. Best known is the University of Luxembourg (87%).
- Mr Science, science.lu, Science Festival and Researchers’ Days remain well-known – but there is still room for improvement here, especially among the Non-Luxembourgers living in the country.
Below are more details about the individual results.
How high is the level of trust in science and research among people ?
75% of the population trusts science and research – which is again a statistically significant increase compared to the 2021 survey (70%).
This opinion is relatively evenly distributed in the subgroups analysed (genders, age groups, nationality, professional status). With one exception : people with higher levels of education have a higher trust in science and research than people with lower levels of education.
- 65% with completion of primary school + 3 (48% in the 2021 survey).
- 67% with a secondary school degree (68% in the 2021 survey)
- 83% with a university degree (79% in the 2021 survey).
It should be emphasised, however, that trust has increased by 17 percentage points among people with an education level of primary school + 3 compared to the 2021 survey.
How high is the level of trust in the profession of researcher ?
Compared to other professions surveyed, researchers enjoy the highest level of trust among the people from Luxembourg people :
- 92% trust researchers
- 88% trust doctors
- 79% trust teachers
- 74% trust judges
- 34% trust the media
- 34% trust politicians
Important : no comparison can be made here with the question about trust in science and research in general, because there were fewer options to answer for the question about trust in the different professions than for the general trust question.
It is interesting to note that there were hardly any differences between the subgroups in terms of trust in different professions – not even between different levels of education.
Compared to the 2019 survey (where the same question was last asked), trust in all these occupational groups has increased slightly.
Which source of information do people trust more : science and research actors or the press ?
Trust in information about science and research disseminated by both science and research actors and the press is generally high.
But it is higher in information disseminated directly by science and research actors.
The results of this question have not changed significantly compared to 2021.
How much interest is there in science and research ?
The interest of people in science and research in Luxembourg has increased steadily since 2013.
However, similar to the last survey, almost 6 out of 10 respondents (58%) still feel not well or only a little informed about science and research in Luxembourg.
How much should Luxembourg invest in research ?
There is still support for investing in the local research landscape.
- 54% of respondents believe that investment in local research programmes should be even a little or a lot higher than at present.
- 38% say investments should remain at the current level.
- Only 8% say there should be a little or a lot less investment.
For information : Investments in public and private research in Luxembourg have risen steadily over the last 15 years, reaching 426.6 MEUR in 2021, which represents 0.59% of the country’s GDP.
Are children/young people sufficiently educated in science at school ?
The majority of the population (53%) still thinks that especially children in primary school are not sufficiently educated in science. As for science education in secondary schools, 46% also think it is insufficient. However, compared to the last two surveys of 2021 and 2019, these numbers have gone down in the 2023 survey.
What does people think about the impact of research ?
The population still confirms that research has an impact on society. In their opinion, it contributes most to the economic competitiveness of the country. But they also think it offers concrete benefits when it comes to improving our everyday lives, for example our health or mobility. And it can help solve problems related to the environment (e.g. floods, pollution, renewable energy) and society (e.g. education, multilingualism).
In general, the level of agreement has increased over the years in all categories surveyed.
To what extent should science play a role in politics ?
The value of scientific findings for political decision-making seems to be widely confirmed by the people.
- 79% think that political decisions should be based on scientific findings.
- 88% think scientists should speak out publicly when politicians ignore their research findings.
- But only 49% think that scientists themselves should become active in politics.
How many people know the public science and research actors in Luxembourg ?
87% of the population know or have heard of the University of Luxembourg. The Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), the publisher of science.lu, employer of Mr Science and organiser of the Researchers’ Days, is known by 69%. The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and the Museum of Natural History (naturmusée) have become more widely known compared to the last survey. The results for the University, FNR and the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) are similar to those of 2021.
How well known are Mr Science, Science Festival, Researchers’ Days and science.lu ?
The survey also asked about awareness of the FNR’s most important initiatives to promote science to the public.
In general : Mr Science, science.lu, the Science Festival and Researchers’ Days are already quite well known, but there is still room for improvement, especially among the non-Luxembourgish population.
Mr Science is mainly known to those of Luxembourg nationality : 85% of Luxembourgers know the likeable FNR employee, who is best known from the TV programme “PISA – De Wëssensmagazin” on RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg. As this is mainly broadcast in Luxembourgish, it is not surprising that Mr Science is much less known among non-Luxembourgers in the country (24%). It should be emphasised, however, that Mr Science enjoys a higher level of awareness among people who have a lower level of education than among those with a university or college degree.
The Science Festival and the Researchers’ Days, two events where the public can experience science interactively, have reached their pre-pandemic notoriety level again. 52% know the Science Festival, organised by the FNR together with the Museum of Natural History (naturmusée) in Luxembourg-Grund every two years. Next edition : 11 and 12 November 2023 !
In the years between two Science Festivals, the FNR organises a similar event at the Rockhal in Belval, the Researchers’ Days. This one is known by only 36%.
Luxembourg residents are also aware of these two events regardless of their level of education.
Awareness of science.lu and its social media channels, created and managed by the FNR, has decreased again since the last survey – from 51% to 43%. It is now back at the same level as the 2019 pre-pandemic survey (43%).