Social Dynamics of Public Engagement in Stem Cell Research, 2005-2007

  • Sarah Parry (Creator)
  • Sarah Cunningham-Burley (Creator)
  • Wendy Faulkner (Creator)
  • Austin Smith (Creator)



This is a qualitative data collection.


This project had two main aims: to investigate the range of views and concerns of people hold about stem cell research (SCR), and to explore critically the scope for increasing public engagement in SCR through a range of public engagement techniques. The research was conducted in two distinct but interrelated stages:
Stage I used focus groups, a tried and tested social science approach to exploring the views of different people. The 18 focus group discussions covered different issues relating to SCR such as sources of stem cells, applications, uncertainty and public engagement. Participants were drawn from scientists and clinicians working in the area, specialists who were not directly interested in stem cells, and the wider public, including those who may have had particular interest in SCR because of their experience of illness or disability, and others who may not have previously considered this type of research. Users should note that this data collection contains only the data from the 18 focus groups conducted at Stage I
Stage II involved eight public engagement events of different size and format. While some participants from Stage I attended the events, Stage II brought together a diverse range of people. The aim was to create a stimulating but comfortable environment within which people could discuss issues and learn from each other. Examples of the topics covered at the events included the regulation and commercialisation of SCR, the different sources of stem cells, and what people thought about using human ova for research purposes. The researchers used different formats for these events, based on deliberative methods, allowing people to think carefully about the issues concerned before forming opinions. The researchers held talks, question and answer sessions, small group discussions, ballots and games, all aimed at facilitating debate. In total, nearly 300 people participated in this stage of the research, 30 of whom came to more than one event. Where possible the researchers recorded what participants said, providing them with over 100 hours of research materials for analysis

Data Citation

Parry, S., Cunningham-Burley, S., Faulkner, W., Smith, A. (2010). Social Dynamics of Public Engagement in Stem Cell Research, 2005-2007. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 6401,
Date made available11 May 2010
PublisherUK Data Archive (Colchester, Essex)
Date of data productionOct 2005 - Mar 2007
Geographical coverageScotland

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