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Public attitudes literature review Characteristics

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Cost Scale: This will depend on the scope to be covered, but may be of the order of £5,000 to £10,000.

Time Scale: A draft review may be developed in a short time – possibly 1-2 weeks. A fuller surevy where there is an external view of the question to be addressed and also review of the survey may take 2-4 months.

Depth Breadth Reach 
Engagement Level
High Medium High 


Public attitudes literature reviews provide a comprehensive review of existing research into the public’s views. By reviewing this research over time, they highlight trends in public opinion and draw out themes within them. They include research obtained using a variety of tools, ranging from one-off opinion surveys to ongoing deliberative methodologies. As a result, the findings contained within them lie at all points of the spectrum from opinions to fundamental values.

Policy makers should however be aware that these qualities are dependent on which tools have been previously used to research public views on an issue- If there has only been a small number of tools used over a narrow timeframe, such public view literature reviews are likely to have less depth. In this instance a public attitudes literature review may be less effective.


The diversity of perspectives included and issues discussed in a public attitudes literature review is dependent on both the scope of the report and the nature of existing research into a topic. Consequently, if there is adequate previous research, such factors can be decided by the policy maker. As they review the existing state of a topic, they do not propose novel future policy ideas or solutions.


Public attitudes literature reviews aim to collate all previous research into public views on a given topic. Previous Sciencewise public attitude literature reviews have incorporated at least 2,000 participants’ views.   

Engagement Level

The introductions of public views literature reviews allow policy makers to develop their own understanding of the scientific and technological context of a topic.  As they are a retrospective study, they are used to provide one-way feedback to policy makers on a range of public views. The policy maker has no influence on the direction of research, and has no direct engagement with the public.

Although the research contained within them is likely to include dialogue between specialists, public and policy makers, such consultations may not be based on the current state of knowledge if the issue is an emerging topic with significant ongoing research.