“When Law Calls, Does Science Answer? A Survey of Distinguished Scientists & Engineers”

An online methodological appendix to the survey.

Shari Seidman Diamond & Richard O. Lempert, “When Law Calls, Does Science Answer? A Survey of Distinguished Scientists & Engineers,” Dædalus 147 (4) (Fall 2018)

The 3,328 scientists and engineers who were invited to participate in the survey were all of the members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Class I (mathematical and physical sciences); Class II (biological sciences) and Class III (social sciences), plus sixty Academy members from Class V (public affairs, business, and administration) whose substantive expertise was in science or engineering.

Invitees received the first invitation to complete the survey from the Academy on June 9, 2016, directing them to a website associated with their Academy Class:


Dear Colleague,

We are writing to invite you to participate in an American Academy-sponsored survey about your views of and experience with the legal system.

This survey, the first comprehensive investigation of its kind, is part of the Science and the Legal System study within the Academy’s Public Face of Science project. The questionnaire is being distributed to all scientists, engineers, and social scientists in the Academy’s membership.

Your experience with and views of the legal system will help us to understand better how scientists and engineers perceive and interact with the legal system and provide much needed guidance on how to improve the law-science relationship.

We seek to understand why some scientists never engage with the legal system as well as to describe the experiences of scientists who have participated. The views of those who have had no involvement with the legal system are as important as the views of those who have.

About the survey:

  • It should take between 10-30 minutes to complete, depending on whether and how much you have interacted as an expert with the legal system.

  • It does not have to be completed in one sitting.

  • The data will be analyzed anonymously, and all identifiers will be stripped from completed questionnaires.

  • The results will be presented in a special issue of Dædalus (with other articles exploring the interface between science and the law).

  • Your participation in the survey will contribute to the long-term impacts of the Academy’s Public Face of Science project. Our hope is that the results of this survey will lead to additional research, events, and discussions that are of benefit to the public.

Please take the survey: http://svy.mk/XXXX
 
To facilitate analysis please complete the survey by June 24, 2016.


If you have questions about the survey or how it will be used, please contact Shari Diamond.

Thank you in advance for your participation and assistance.


Sincerely,
 
Shari Seidman Diamond 
Howard J. Trienens Professor of Law, Professor of Psychology, and Director, JD-PhD Program, Northwestern University School of Law; Research Professor, American Bar Foundation
 
Richard Lempert 
Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law & Sociology, emeritus, University of Michigan
 
Jonathan Fanton
President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences


They then received a reminder invitation on June 16, 2016, and an additional follow-up invitation on September 9, 2016. We received a total of 366 responses.

In a further effort to build the sample size on a few crucial variables and to test for response bias, we sent out the following invitation on July 6, 2017. As indicated below, respondents could go to the dedicated website or simply answer the questions and hit reply to the email. We received 253 responses in this follow-up survey from individuals who had not completed the full survey in response to our earlier invitations.


Dear Academy Member, 

Last summer, as part of the Academy’s Science and the Legal System initiative, we conducted a survey of Academy members in the natural and social sciences to better understand the interactions of scientific experts with lawyers and the courts. Our preliminary analysis of the survey results confirms that this study will provide a deeper empirical understanding about the relationship between science and law. 

We are writing now to ask you to help the Academy by filling out a two-minute survey designed to allow us to assess the degree to which our results are representative of the survey population. Please fill out this short survey whether or not you completed the original survey, and whether or not you have had any involvement with the legal system. The survey questions are listed below. 

We have created two response options. You can: 

  1. Click here to complete the survey anonymously online; OR

  2. Reply to this email, indicating your answers to the following questions in the body of your email reply. Please insert an "X" or a number, as appropriate.

 

Follow-up survey to check for response bias 


1. Did you respond to the survey that we distributed last year?
Yes ____    No ____
If YES, please mark your answer and hit SEND now; you do not need to complete the remaining questions. 

2. How many times has a party, attorney, or judge ever asked for your expert scientific or engineering advice?
Never ____    1 or 2 ____    3-9 ____    10 or more ____

a. If you have been asked, have you ever agreed to provide assistance?
Yes ____    No ____

b. If you ever agreed to help, how many times did you in fact get to help?
Never ____    1 or 2 ____    3-9 ____    10 or more ____

3. In litigation or arbitration where scientific or engineering issues are involved, on average, how successful do you think the American legal system is in producing results that reflect sound scientific or engineering knowledge?
____ Very successful
____ Somewhat successful
____ Somewhat unsuccessful
____ Very unsuccessful

4. To gauge demographic representativeness:

a. Your year of birth ____    
b. Your gender    Male ____    Female ____

Please hit send now. 

Thank you very much for your contribution to this important Academy project.


Sincerely,


Shari Seidman Diamond
Howard J. Trienens Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology,
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law;
Research Professor, American Bar Foundation

Richard Lempert
Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law & Sociology, emeritus,
University of Michigan 


Population breakdowns were provided by the Academy. Below are breakdowns for the Population, Sample 1 (full survey, n = 366; response rate = 11.0 percent) and the Follow-Up Sample (abbreviated follow-up survey, n = 253). The total response rate was 18.6 percent.

Appendix Table 1
Demographic Breakdowns for Population and Samples

  Population Sample 1 Follow-Up Sample
Academy Class
I 37.5% 35.5% 39.1%
II 34.1% 31.1% 34.8%
III 28.3% 33.3% 26.1%
Gender
Male 82.7% 75.9% 76.7%
Female 17.3% 24.1% 23.3%
Age
59 or less 14.7% 9.6% 10.1%
60-64 16.0% 13.2% 16.1%
65-69 16.2% 20.2% 18.5%
70-74 17.2% 23.2% 19.8%
75 or more 35.9% 33.8% 35.5%

Respondents in Sample 1 and the Follow-Up Sample were both asked how many times they had been asked for advice, how many times they had agreed to provide assistance, and how many times they in fact had helped.

Appendix Table 2
Participation Rates for Sample 1 and the Follow-Up Sample

  Sample 1 (N=366) Follow-Up Sample (N=253)
% Ever asked to participate 53.6% 60.3%
Class I 45.4% 54.5%
Class II 50.0% 64.8%
Class III 65.6% 63.1%
How many times asked to provide assistance
Never asked 46.0% 39.7%
1-2 times 16.3% 27.4%
3-9 times 20.6% 21.0%
10 or more times 17.1% 11.9%
  100.0% 100.0%
% Ever agreed to participate of those asked 90.5% 83.6%
Class I 94.7% 83.3%
Class II 89.3% 82.5%
Class III 88.2% 85.4%
% Ever provided assistance of those who agreed 79.5% 96.1%

Respondents in Sample 1 and the Follow-Up Sample were both asked to rate how successful they think the American legal system is in producing results that reflect sound scientific or engineering knowledge.

Appendix Table 3
Legal System Success in Producing Results Reflecting Sound Scientific Knowledge for Sample 1 and the Follow-Up Sample

  Sample 1 Follow-Up Sample
How successful
Very successful 2.0% 4.2%
Somewhat successful 58.0% 60.2%
Somewhat unsuccessful 30.0% 31.8%
Very unsuccessful 10.1% 3.8%
Total (n=307) (n=236)