Living in ‘Interesting Times’… The “Under the Influence” Survey

“Adelaide, January 2008.
Second Mail-Out!

Welcome back from the Christmas / New Year break- we hope that you had the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, and that Santa was kind to you all.

To those of you who have been kind enough to answer our survey- many thanks! We are well into three figures for respondents -beyond our expectations, I have to admit, but a reflection of the interest in the subject matter. The answers are already revealing interesting trends. Please disregard this email and enjoy the New Year!

To those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to answer our “Under the Influence” survey, or were too busy in the run up into Christmas- please, consider giving it a go today. We’d like it to be as representative as possible, and reflect all of the diverse opinions on the subject in Australia. If we don’t hear from you, we can’t include your opinion in our census, and as an AOD expert in Australia, we really do want you to be able to have your say. Just follow the link in the following section to take you straight to the survey.

To those of you who have received this letter for the first time- hello! Please have a look at our introduction / first mail out to our survey (below), and if you have the time, give it a crack. We think (perhaps immodestly!) that it’s quite an interesting survey to complete, and it shouldn’t take up too much of your time…

In the first decade of the new millennium, the world is an ‘interesting’ place for scientists and researchers. A number of critical issues, of global importance, have highlighted the increasingly significant role of impartial scientific inquiry in protecting humanity from itself. Unfortunately, as the stakes in the issues we need to address, so do the lengths that other parties go to influence the findings of scientists and researchers. The increasing attempts by non-scientific actors to influence the findings of science
and scientists are increasingly being uncovered around the world.

This has been particularly well documented in the field of climate change, both in the USA and it appears, in Australia. The Union of Concerned Scientists was formed in the USA to counter this movement, and a number of other areas are now under scrutiny.

Anecdotal reports suggest that the arena of alcohol and other drug (AOD) policy is not immune to this intervention and influence. Little formal research exists to investigate the scale of this problem in Australia, or indeed if it exists at all. We would like to invite you to have your say on the issue, and contribute to our greater understanding of the situation.

We have designed our ‘Under the Influence’ survey for anyone who is currently working in the AOD arena in Australia. It’s anonymous, and we are using a ‘snow-ball’ technique to target individual, rather than corporate, opinions. We want to know if you feel your work and your interests are allowed to stand on its’ merit, or whether you feel that you have had to make compromises for reasons that, to date, you have been unable to share.

It’s not all about the negative, though. We also want to hear about your hopes and aspirations, and what you would like see happen in your field in the next decade of this millennium. We believe that the data generated from our project will be useful to researchers and policy makers alike, providing a snapshot of the current mood of the
profession, as well as a template to guide future endeavours.

If you are interested, please paste the following link into your web browser, and follow the instructions.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Oa5MFYYROJmkIFj_2bWnewHQ_3d_3d

It won’t take very long (we promise!) and we think the results, once compiled, will provide very interesting reading. Please feel free to forward this on to anyone that you think might be interested in the topic, or in completing the survey. We are hoping that respondents forwarding this email will help get the maximal coverage for the survey, ensuring that we have a truly representative sample with which to work.

Thanks again for your time and energy – we look forward to sharing our results with you!

David Caldicott (Royal Adelaide Hospital)
Andrew MacIntosh (ANU)”