Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation: Organisational and National Conditions

By SalM on October 20, 2020 in News

What are the drivers of and barriers to RRI implementation? See here for a summary of 12 national reports (both EU and from further afield) produced by the now-concluded RRI PRACTICE project.

The book disseminates both the organisational analysis conducted in the project and the comparison of the national discourses and practices of relevance to RRI. As the overall research design and the theoretical framework employed in the project is of direct import on the coding scheme used in Part I, they treat the research design and theoretical backbone of the project in Part I, while the analysis of national discourses and practices are discussed in Part II. The national discourses and further national environment are frequently discussed and shown to be of importance for the organisations surveyed in Part I. The further treatment and comparison of national discourses and practices in Part II allow us to deepen our understanding of the impact of the national environments of the organisations surveyed with respect to conditions for the uptake of RRI. They conclude the book with reflections on the relation between the organisational and national analyses.

Introduction to the RRI-Practice Study

RRI is the acronym for Responsible Research and Innovation, a concept supported by the European Commission, calling for a new relationship between society, research, and innovation (von Schomberg 2012). The RRI-Practice project reviewed RRI- related work in 23 research performing and research funding organisations located in 12 different countries. The organisations vary on parameters such as size, teaching obligations, and impact in the national funding landscape. Additionally, some are policy organisations, closely tied to the political system in the countries, while others operate at arm’s length to political management or are formally independent entities. (See Tables 2.2 and 2.3 in Chap. 2 below for details of organisations researched).

Through interviews, focus group interviews, workshops of various formats, and document reviews, the project traced organisational practices that can be related to the five RRI policy keys (also called thematic elements) and four RRI process dimensions, central to current theorised understandings of what constitutes RRI- Practices (e.g. Owen et al. 2012; Stilgoe et al. 2013). A common denominator for the keys and dimensions is ‘RRI aspects.’ It is only in a subset of the surveyed organisations that the notion of RRI is widely known; in some organisations only a smaller portion of the employees are familiar with the RRI concept; and in most cases, this project constituted the first contact for the notion of RRI. This does not leave out the possibility of organisational practices that are commonly parallel or what Sally Randles and colleagues have termed ‘de facto rri’ (e.g. Randles 2016; Randles et al. 2016). In collaboration with each organisation, the national project research teams developed RRI Outlooks outlining RRI objectives, targets and indicators for each organisation. The result of this work was 12 publicly available country reports, comprising an analysis of the national context for the uptake of RRI, the status of RRI-related practices in each organisation, action plans for developing and sustaining RRI practices, and suggestions for indicators for individual organisations.

It is the data from these 12 national reports that inform this book, and which are summarised in Table 2.4 in Chap. 2.4

In addition, the project developed a report comparing implementations across case studies at the level of specific RRI keys and process dimensions of RRI (Hennen et al. 2018); a booklet with recommendations to national policymakers (Owen et al. 2019); as well as a handbook on how to develop RRI in organisations, showcasing 11 good practices, and the provision of practical advice to managers, change agents, and researchers with an interest in RRI (Wittrock and Forsberg 2019). They draw on the latter material selectively in their analysis.

Read more in the book here.


Event: Celebrating openness

By SalM on October 20, 2020 in News

Why is transparency important for the research process? What are the advantages and challenges of opening up research? How are researchers at the University of Groningen doing this in practical terms? Can a modified lottery be a just method to assign research funding or prizes?

Join this online event on 22 October to celebrate the many ways in which academics make their research more accessible, transparent, or reproducible.

Detailed programme

Keynote: What is transparency for? (Simine Vazire)

Science is often said to be self-correcting, but we rarely hear about what makes science self-correcting. Some mechanisms that are meant to provide quality control, such as peer-reviewed journals, or textbooks, have recently been found not to provide much of a safeguard against invalid claims. Instead, I argue that we should look for visible signs of a scientific community’s commitment to self-correction, rather than taking it for granted that all of science is self-correcting. The first pillar of commitment to self-correction is transparency. Without transparency, detecting and correcting errors is almost impossible. However, transparency is not sufficient for self-correction. The second pillar of a commitment to self-correction is the critical appraisal. Transparently-reported research outputs are the beginning of a process, not the endpoint. Researchers should be encouraged to take advantage of each other’s transparency to interrogate and scrutinize one another’s claims, and rewarded for this type of work. The self-correcting mechanisms in science can be found in a community’s commitment to transparency and critical appraisal.

Simine Vazire is a Professor at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Her research examines individual and institutional practices and norms in science, and the degree to which these norms encourage or impede self-correction and credibility. She is Editor in Chief of Collabra: Psychology and has served as an editor at several other journals. She is a board member of the Public Library Of Science and the Berkeley Institute for Transparency in the Social Sciences, was a member of the US National Academy of Science study committee on replicability and reproducibility, and co-founded the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS).

Keynote: Benefits and challenges of adopting open research practices (Ineke Wessel)

The replication crisis in psychology and the subsequent rise in the use of open research practices requires a radical change in perspective for more senior researchers. “Old-school” researchers who are looking to implement change may feel challenged by old habits at an individual (How to recognize questionable research practices?) as well as a more systemic level (e.g. bias in the academic publishing process, reward structures at their institutions). In the present contribution, I will talk about some of those challenges and possible ways of dealing with them. As an illustration, I will present a recent project that involved a) writing up decades-old null-results rather than leaving them in my file drawer; b) exploring multiple ways of data analysis rather than deciding on one (arbitrary) best analysis (i.e., multiverse analysis) and c) collaborating with early career researchers with up-to-date technical knowledge (e.g., R., RMarkdown).

Ineke Wessel is an associate professor of experimental psychopathology at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She has studied (emotional) autobiographical memory since the 1990s. Her research interests include the involvement of memory in the origins and maintenance of psychopathology and the malleability of emotional memories themselves, including false / recovered memories. Relatively recently, she became fascinated with the question of what the current replication crisis in psychology may mean for clinical psychology. Having received “old school” academic training, she tries to switch to Open Science practices as much as possible. She wrote a series of blogposts about her experiences.

Lightning talks: Inspiring open research case studies from UG researchers

Be inspired by peers! Three UG researchers will present their case studies as lightning talks (5-10 minutes). They will share their experience with open research, demonstrate how they – successfully or unsuccessfully – apply open research practices and explore the challenges and difficulties of making open choices.

Prior to the event, the jury randomly drew these three case studies among all eligible submissions of the award. The three submissions are invited to present their research as lightning talks during the event and will each receive 500 euros.

Modified lotteries in research funding

The award is meant to highlight and acknowledge endeavours to apply open research practices and not to rank submissions in a competitive manner. A modified lottery system is therefore used as it fits well with the ‘open and fair’ principles of the award. It is also expected to reduce bias, to increase diversity and to contribute to alleviating the competitive climate in academia.

Can modified lotteries really be a useful and just way to assign research funding or prizes? The panel discussion ‘Luck of the draw’ features Pauline Kleingeld (UG, Faculty of Philosophy), Marie-José van Tol (UMCG) and Marco Bieri (Swiss National Science Foundation, SNSF). The SNSF has experimented with the random selection process for research funding since 2019.


13.00 – Welcome

13.10 – Keynote: What is transparency for?
Prof. Simine Vazire, University of Melbourne

13.50 – Online coffee break

14.00 – Keynote: Benefits and challenges of adopting open research practices
Dr Ineke Wessel, University of Groningen

14.40 – Online coffee break

14.50 – Lightning talks – Inspiring open research case studies from 3 UG researchers

15.45 – Panel discussion: Luck of the draw. Using modified lotteries in research funding

16.30 – Closing and online drinks

17.00 – End

More information:

Thursday, October 22, 2020
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Time Zone:
Central European Time