Article: “Mystery Shopping: An Innovative Method for Observing Interactions with Scientists During Public Science Events”

What do we know?

  • A key component of public science events, like science festivals, is the interactions between scientists and the public. While there currently is no objective measure of best practices for these types of interactions, it’s important to begin to examine this dynamic to understand what works well and what does not.
  • To contribute to this examination, the authors designed a study that would focus on scientist interactions within a science festival utilizing the development, testing, and analysis of a mystery shopping protocol.
  • The mystery shopping protocol highlighted the importance of hands-on and demonstration activities by scientists, as well as activities designed for a broader audience than only children.

How do we know?

The authors developed a mystery shopping protocol which was tested and analyzed. Mystery shopping is a “systematic and structured method in which a trained shopper completed a transaction as a typical customer but with focused attention to the setting, products, and employees involved in the transaction.” The protocol was designed to both identify and understand best practices as they relate to scientists’ interactions with the public at science festival events. To do this, data was collected two ways – via the mystery shopping protocol and an intercept survey.

Where do we go to learn more?

Peterman, Karen, and Denise Young. (2015). “Mystery Shopping: An Innovative Method for Observing Interactions With Scientists During Public Science Events.” Visitor Studies, 18:1, 83-102.