The Ford Questionnaire, December 1994

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Are You Happy in Your Work?

Text of Laboratory News Questionnaire, with respondent totals

What do today’s scientists think of their posts? The media (and much casual gossip) suggests that scientists as a group are dissatisfied and demoralised, and believe that science is going down-hill. Politicians and many decision-makers feel that science is now at a premium, that morale is high, and that our future prosperity depends on it. They insist that scientists are doing very well. This survey looks at your attitude to your job, and your sense of well-being. Ring the answer you would choose for each question, and feel free to add comments if you wish. Your name and address may be added, but feel free to remain anonymous if you prefer.

The Questions

1) The government speaks of ‘wealth creation’ and links this to Technology Foresight. Wealth creation is a major purpose of research in science.
(a) True 64 (b) False 134 (c) Not applicable 38

2) Science has retreated into increasingly narrow specialities. Interdisciplinary science is now in need of considerable expansion.
(a) True 192 (b) False 42 (c) Not applicable 4

3) The government’s Scrutiny Report fails to show any ‘regard for science’, says the Royal Society. But in reality, the government’s science policy is far-sighted and valuable.
(a) True 2 (b) False 226 (c) Not applicable 9

4) Politicians say we are in a new era of forward-looking policy and decision-making. Science is now more soundly based than ever before.
(a) True 4 (b) False 224 (c) Not applicable 10

5) Let us consider children and their attitude to science. Youngsters find science - as a subject - essentially boring and uninteresting.
(a) True 108 (b) False 118 (c) Not applicable 0

6) Students do not choose science as a career because they believe the pay and security are poor.
(a) True 222 (b) False 12 (c) Not applicable 0

7) Most scientists feel they are more highly valued, trusted and highly respected than they were a generation ago. Morale is high.
(a) True 4 (b) False 230 (c) Not applicable 4

8) The Association of University Teachers claimed, after a recent survey, that some scientists were not receiving due pay increases. Have you received yours?
(a) Yes 80 (b) No 102 (c) Not applicable 54

9) Current policies have a positive and beneficial effect on innovation.
(a) True 2 (b) False 102 (c) Not applicable 8

10) Pure research has been in competition for resources with applied investigation in recent years. But pure research is definitely holding its own.
(a) True 20 (b) False 202 (c) Not applicable 12

11) Management increasingly controls the direction and funding of science. But the rôle of managers is disruptive and negative.
(a) True 166 (b) False 34 (c) Not applicable 34

12) Science is rooted in personal freedom. Academic freedom considerably increased during your time in science.
(a) True 8 (b) False 206 (c) Not applicable 18

13) Imagine that a young relative asks your advice about becoming a scientist. In today’s climate you would advise against it.
(a) True 168 (b) False 64 (c) Not applicable 6

14) Science, for many scientists, was a childhood ambition. Your career has almost completely matched your hopes.
(a) True 70 (b) False 150 (c) Not applicable 14

Years in Science:

Head of Department
Senior Scientist
Junior Scientist
Postgraduate student
Highest qualification:

© Brian J Ford, December 1994

See also: main bibliography, report entitled National Science, Weak and original article