Wherever possible, our work to engage people with chemistry is grounded in solid social science. Where that is not possible, we support programmes that will generate the necessary evidence.
Public attitudes to chemistry
Our long-term ambition is to shift the image of chemistry and raise the profile of chemists. Before we can try to do that it is critically important that we understand public attitudes towards chemistry and find out about people's knowledge, interest and engagement with the work that we all do. We must build our understanding of public opinion and exposure to chemistry.
We recently commissioned in-depth qualitative and quantitative research to investigate public attitudes to chemistry. This has allowed us to explore public opinion and the way people imagine chemistry, and will enable us to strategically focus our public activities to maximise our efforts.
Read about the research findings, and read RSC past president David Phillips’s response to the research.
Chemistry for all
Our Chemistry for All project is exploring and addressing the barriers to participation in UK chemistry undergraduate study. The five year project will cost around £1million and will study the effects of a long-term series of activities, rather than the one-off activities that are so often the focus of chemistry enhancement and enrichment activity.
The activities will be run by teams at universities with innovative approaches to widening participation in chemistry: Liverpool John Moores; Nottingham Trent; Reading and Southampton in partnership; and Warwick. Each university will work with six schools from local areas with low university participation.
A separate research project run by a team from The Institute of Education, University of London (IoE), will explore the impact of the project on the students who take part, following them from Year 8 through to Year 12, and possibly to undergraduate study, training or work. They will report on their intermediate findings as they go along, with a final report once the project comes to completion in Summer 2019.
Factors affecting public engagement by researchers
Together with 15 other organisations, we are researching how best to support public engagement with research. To help us understand the landscape, we are re-running the 2006 Royal Society Survey of factors affecting science communication to establish what has changed in the sector over the last 10 years, and to provide a benchmark for future developments.
The organisations involved are research funders including the Wellcome Trust, all four UK Funding Councils, and Research Councils UK, alongside learned societies such as ourselves, the Royal Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The report was published in December 2015.