APS Member Survey on Public Engagement

APS members value public engagement but some face barriers

In 2022, APS contracted with the AIP Statistical Research Center to conduct a survey of APS members’ involvement, interests, challenges, and perceived value regarding public engagement in physics.

Who took the survey?

The survey drew from a random sample of APS members, with 2,208 survey respondents, which corresponds to a 23.7% response rate.

Perceived value of public engagement

Ninety-two percent of members who have facilitated public engagement report a positive experience.

Members report positive effects of their public engagement on their teaching skills (85% report positive effect, 15% neutral), professional development or career progress (60% report positive effect, 37% neutral), and their own research (49% report positive effect, 45% neutral).

Respondents perceived public engagement to positively impact science

Seventy-six percent of respondents said that most public engagement efforts have a positive effect on scientific progress.

Respondents perceived importance of public engagement

Sixty-eight percent of respondents report that most physicists think it is important to engage with the public.

Participation in public engagement

Over 68% of APS members report engaging with the public and use a variety of formats to do so.

Interest in public engagement

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they are likely to facilitate public engagement in the future.

Incentives to public engagement

When APS members were asked, "What would incentivize you to facilitate future public engagement efforts?" they responded with the following incentives:

  • Recognition from their institution, organization or company: 83%.
  • Monetary awards or grants to facilitate public engagement efforts: 73%.
  • Recognition awards from APS: 67%.
  • Invitations to speak at APS: 62%.
  • Certifications in public engagement: 54%.
Member survey

Barriers to public engagement

  • 40%

    Only 40% of respondents report current access to financial resources to facilitate public engagement efforts.

  • 42%

    Only 42% reported some access to training in public engagement skills.

  • 48%

    Forty-eight percent said they would need more time to do public engagement.

Challenges to public engagement faced by specific groups

Some of these challenges are especially faced by students, early career members, and those from underrepresented groups. Members of an underrepresented group were more likely to indicate they would need additional access to financial resources to facilitate public engagement in future (differences between groups are statistically significant at the alpha = 0.05 level.)

APS early career or graduate members were more likely to be discouraged from facilitating public engagement in the past three years.


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