RRING Public Forum Events

By SalM on October 19, 2020 in RRING NEWS

RRING public forum events are a vital part of our work in bringing various stakeholders together around a topic of mutual interest and for a common purpose.  They form part of our ongoing work in taking responsible, research and innovation conversations outside of academia and into the public domain, with an objective of mutual collaboration to tackle societal challenges specifically the UN Sustainable Development goals.  They are based on three principles:

  • Co-creation (ie. What can we as a group of stakeholders do to address the topic)?
  • Social innovation (How can we meet societal needs in an innovative way?)
  • Social entrepreneurship (What entrepreneurial solutions can society produce?)

Better science requires mutual learning between scientists and the public in order to understand a breadth of perspectives, frames and global views. It also provides an opportunity for the dissemination of science and research. Members of the RRING network should be looking for opportunities to host or get involved with public forum type events in order to truly achieve the RRING objectives.


When and How


Any member of the RRING community can hold a public forum event with the support of the RRING project team.  They are held on an ad-hoc basis either virtually or as in-person events depending on the format that is most suitable.  They may form part of larger events or a series of events.  The flexibility of these events is extremely important in order that the format is best for engaging the interested wider public.

They will generally be based around a topic of specific scientific interest on a local, global or national basis, often with an element of political or conceptual controversy usually underpinned by the SDGs.  Content must be accessible for all stakeholders not just those representing academia. Formats may include expert speakers, round table discussions and open question and answer sessions.


Example events


Future Events


Future public forums are planned in Spain, Japan, India and the UK.  RRING members and trial countries are urged to consider how they are engaging with the wider public and what topics are of relevance and importance to their national agenda. They should look at ways in which they can connect academia to wider society and consider public forums as a way of doing this.  The RRING project team can support in modes of engagement and planning and preparing for these events.

For more information please contact us via email: emma.day@vitae.ac.uk

Showcasing successful women’s STEM achievements, a social vaccine against gender stereotypes among young girls

By SalM on October 19, 2020 in News

The director of the UOC’s GenTIC research group, Milagros Sáinz, is collaborating on a study that evaluates the effectiveness of female role models in promoting scientific and technological vocations for girls

According to data published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), female participation in the labour market has risen over the past 35 years, with women now accounting for 52.5% of the total workforce. Despite this increase, gender equality in the workplace is still far from a reality. In traditionally male-dominated fields, such as those known by the STEM acronym (for science, technology, engineering and mathematics), only two of every ten positions are occupied by women.

This underrepresentation distances women from accessing leadership positions and results in the exclusion of the feminine perspective in creating and developing solutions in the digital transformation era. It also leads to an absence of role models that showcase the contributions made by women in these areas, which may in turn cause children and teens to mistakenly think that the talent and skills required to pursue STEM careers are correlated with masculinity.

As such, in a study published in the open access journal Frontiers in Psychology, a team of researchers led by the director of the GenTIC (Gender and ICT) research group at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Milagros Sáinz, have demonstrated the impact of female role models in influencing girls’ preferences for studying STEM subjects.

The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention implemented in sixteen schools in various cities around Spain, involving the participation of 304 girls aged between twelve and sixteen. The intervention formed part of a programme developed by the Inspiring Girls Foundation to promote scientific and technological vocations for girls. This programme involves recruiting successful women working in STEM fields as volunteers to go into schools to talk to the children about their careers. The hope is that this contact with female role models will serve to prevent the perpetuation of gender stereotyping in relation to STEM subject competency and encourage girls to opt to study on university programmes in these fields.

“From a very early age, around the age of six, girls are conditioned to think that they are not as good at maths as their male counterparts. This programme, however, focuses on girls in secondary education aged between twelve and seventeen, as this represents a crucial time during which they have to make choices about which academic path to follow,” explained Sáinz.


Dismantling gender stereotypes


The youngsters who participated in the study, which examined their perceptions in relation to mathematics, were asked to complete a questionnaire both before and after the talks in which they needed to rate the validity of statements, such as ‘Maths is more important for boys’, ‘Boys are better at maths than girls,’ and ‘I am talented at maths.’

The aim was to analyse the extent to which the intervention – attending the talks given by successful women working in STEM – changed the girls’ perceptions about whether women are able to succeed in these fields and whether it increased the likelihood of them choosing to go on to study a STEM subject at university.

“We observed how effective the sessions were in neutralizing the negative effects of gender stereotypes, which advocate that girls have less of an affinity for mathematics, in relation to their predisposition to choose to study STEM subjects,” stressed Sáinz.

Thus, according to the results of the study, coming into contact with successful women working in traditionally male-dominated STEM fields helps promote an interest in these areas of study for girls. “The sessions with the role models also showed the girls a reality that was contrary to established gender stereotypes regarding the kind of people that supposedly work in these sectors and the requirements needed to enter them,” the UOC researcher pointed out.


The role played by families and teachers


Sáinz has also recently published another study, again in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, on how the assessments made, often unconsciously, by parents and teachers with regard to the academic skills of adolescents help to reinforce gender stereotypes and roles. Surprisingly, the researchers identified a discrepancy between the actual academic performance of students and the perception of their abilities by parents and teachers.

In fact, the study, which involved eight focus groups made up of 39 parents and 34 secondary school teachers, showed that many adults are unaware that girls achieve higher grades across all subjects, including those traditionally associated with masculine roles, such as maths, technology, physics and chemistry.

Many of them also continue to attribute academic performance to biological or genetic differences, without reflecting on the implications of this or on how these misconceptions contribute to replicating gender biases and perpetuating a socialization process based on emphasizing the differences between men and women.

“Although some parents and teachers are aware of this, they don’t possess the strategies to combat these gender biases,” said Sáinz. As such, the researcher suggests that efforts still need to be made to seek strategies to effectively combat these biases through training and intervention programmes aimed at families and the educational community.

This research at the UOC promotes Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4: Quality Education, 5: Gender Equality and 10: Reduce Inequalities.


Reference articles


González-Pérez, S.; Mateos de Cabo, R.; Sáinz M (2020). “Girls in STEM: Is It a Female Role-Model Thing?”. In: Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02204

Sáinz, M.; Fàbregues, S.; Solé, J. (2020). “Parent and Teacher Depictions of Gender Gaps in Secondary Student Appraisals of Their Academic Competences”. In: Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.573752

This last study received funding from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (FEM-2014-55096-R) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

    


UOC R&I


The UOC’s research and innovation (R&I) contribute to solving the challenges facing the global societies of the 21st century by studying ICTs’ interactions with human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 50 research groups work among the University’s seven faculties and three research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), the eLearn Center (eLC) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals and open knowledge provide strategic pillars on which the UOC’s teaching, research and innovation are built. More information: research.uoc.edu.

S4D4C experts investigate a range of science diplomacy cases

By SalM on October 19, 2020 in News

As a part of the S4D4C project (“Using Science for/in Diplomacy for addressing global Challenges”), S4D4C experts investigate a range of science diplomacy cases in their activity called “European Science Diplomacy addressing global challenges”. A mixed team of researchers has developed nine case studies, which each provide an overview of the case and its background, context and governance arrangements, further providing a description of the stakeholder landscape and a discussion of governance practices. They look at the EU level as well as selected examples from the national level that varies case to case. The case studies examine the use of knowledge, the relations between governance levels and provide a discussion on how the case improves or changes our understanding of science diplomacy. They were edited by Mitchell Young (Charles University), Tim Flink (DZHW) and Elke Dall (ZSI).

These case studies are at the empirical heart of S4D4C, informing many other parts of the project such as the work on a governance framework and training materials for science diplomats. The next step in the project is a transversal analysis of the case data, for which we will identify and explicate a range of issues that matter for science diplomacy based on the work in the volume presented here.

 


Cases with a foreign policy focus


1. Science diplomacy and infectious diseases: Between national and European narratives
Case authors:
Ivo Šlosarčík/ Charles University,
Nadia Meyer
/ German Aerospace Center,
Jennifer Chubb
/ University of Sheffield

The Zika epidemics in 2015 and 2016 provided a platform for further elaboration of science diplomacy used by the EU institutions and EU Member States. The response was characterised by an interplay between the political, diplomatic, medical and scientific communities performed within national, European, and global frameworks.

output brief: infectious diseases

case report: infectious diseases

 

 

 


2. Water diplomacy and its future in the national, regional and European environments
Case authors:
Eliška Tomalová
/ Charles University,
Eliška Černovská/ Charles University,
Ewert Aukes
/ University of Twente,
Jasper Montana
/ University of Sheffield
Elke Dall
/ Centre for Social Innovation

Water diplomacy represents a challenge for bringing the worlds of diplomacy and science closer together; it has the potential to shape the diplomatic environment as well as to create new interfaces, techniques, and team strategies in science and foreign policy

output brief: water diplomacy

case report: water diplomacy

 

 

 


3. Cyber security: Mapping the role of science diplomacy in the cyber field
Case authors:
Lucie Kadlecová
/ Charles University,
Nadia Meyer
/ German Aerospace Centre,
Rafaël Cos/ University of Lille,
Pauline Ravinet
/ University of Lille

Cyber security has entered the agenda of the international community and has quickly been transformed from a purely technical topic to an issue of diplomacy. The term ‘cyber diplomacy’ has come into global use, and countries are keenly deploying their own ‘cyber diplomats’.

output brief: cyber security

case report: cyber security

 

 

 


Science driven cases


4. The science and diplomacy of global challenges: Food security in EU-Africa relations
Case authors:
Rafaël Cos/ University of Lille,
Pauline Ravinet/ University of Lille,
Mitchell Young/ Charles University

Over the past 20 years, a set of institutions, concerns, competencies, partnerships, and programmes have shaped the features of EU-African Union food security diplomacy. To what extent has science played a role in deploying this food security diplomacy?

 

output brief: food security in EU Africa relations

case report: food security in EU Africa relations

 

 

 


5. International dimensions of the EU’s FET Flagships: Large-scale strategic research investments as a site of de-facto science diplomacy
Case Author:
Alexander Degelsegger-Márquez
/ formerly Centre for Social Innovation,
now S4D4C Advisory Board member,

A study of Future and Emerging Technology (FET) Flagship initiatives as potential mechanisms of EU science diplomacy reveals that their governance models and design as research policy instruments have sectoral foreign policy dynamics.

 

output brief: FET flagships

case report: FET flagships

 

 

 


6. Open Science Diplomacy
Case author:
Katja Mayer/ Centre for Social Innovation

Following the call for ‘open science, open innovation, and open to the world’ by the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas in 2015, we look for applications and implications of open science in science diplomacy.

 

output brief: Open Science Diplomacy

case report: Open Science Diplomacy

 

 

 

 


European instrument driven cases


7. SESAME – An international research infrastructure in the Middle East
Case author:
Charlotte Rungius
/ German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies

SESAME is a synchrotron light source user’s facility in the Middle East. The international research centre was initiated with the explicit intention to foster scientific cooperation among a number of countries that share a history of conflict.

 

 

output brief: SESAME

case report: SESAME

 

 

 


8. Joint international research programming as a case of science diplomacy
Case author:
Tim Flink
/ German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies

Joint international research programming is a common but underrated case of science diplomacy. It engages funding agencies as intermediary organisations that are compelled to operate at the intersection of science policy and international affairs.

 

 

output brief: joint programming

case report: joint programming

 

 

 


9. Science advice in the European Union: Crafting collective understanding of transnational issues
Case author:
Jasper Montana/ University of Sheffield

In thinking about science diplomacy, it is important to not only acknowledge the formal structures for science diplomacy, but also to consider the ways in which internal capacities for science diplomacy might already be buildt into diplomatic systems.

 

 

 

output brief: science advice

case report: science advice 

 

 


An aggregated data package for the case studies is available HERE.

Here you can access the volume of compiled results of the nine case studies “Science Diplomacy in the Making: Case-based insights from the S4D4C project“.

A suite of tools for countries to better perform their four-yearly monitoring and reporting requirements for the Recommendation on Science

By SalM on October 16, 2020 in RRING NEWS

With the help of UNESCO and the International Consortium of Research Staff Associations – ICoRSA, RRING project is developing a suite of tools for countries to better perform their four-yearly monitoring and reporting requirements for the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers. Lithuania is among the first to fully test tools and indicators during the trial period, followed by the US and South Africa.

UNESCO and the Research Council of Lithuania on June 29, 2020, organized the first online meeting of a new consultation group based in Lithuania, which brought together research and innovation systems experts. The experts began to examine the self-assessment requirements under the UNESCO Recommendation for Science and Scientific Researchers.

This meeting was held online via the MS Teams platform, on June 29 from 3 to 5 p.m and it was the first out of three meetings planned in the following period. These activities are implemented by the Horizon 2020 RRING (Responsible Research and Innovation Networked Globally) Project, and bring together an impressive list of stakeholders in Lithuanian science.


Recommendations for science and scientific researchers


In 2017, UNESCO issued the revised Recommendation for Science and Scientific Researchers covering all principles of Responsible Research: ethics, open science, STEM education, public engagement, and gender equality.

„Science is part of society, and while we want it to be excellent, we also want to ensure that it is an activity that does not detract from but contributes to making our societies more humane, just and inclusive. Once in every few years, it is worth the effort to check if we are doing everything needed to make the ecosystem of science a healthy one that attracts young people and keeps the best talent, and is adapting to changes like digitalization and globalization. Even great universities should not do this alone, The stakeholders of research and innovation may want to develop a conversation on these systemic issues“, said April Tash from UNESCO, who served as the lead manager for the four years of negotiations which led to the revised treaty.

195 countries signed up the Treaty, among them also Lithuania – making this set of standards truly global. The treaty obliges each state to evaluate its performance related to these standards every 4 years.

„The first evaluation process is being launched in July 2020, and the completed evaluation reports must be completed in 10 months by 31 March 2021. UNESCO is about to publish a set of guidelines, but everyone agrees that is can be hard to select the right indicators and intelligence to understand how a country is doing, and some things like scientific freedom or innovative capacity have many dimensions and can be hard to measure“, said Tash. 


Structures and support measures for EU member countries developed by RRING and UNESCO


UNESCO is collaborating with the RRING project on developing structures and support measures for EU member countries that, once started, should be in place for the next round and future rounds of the 4-yearly evaluations in 2024 and 2028. In the meanwhile, they may also help the government understand better what is working and not working in terms of its efforts to create a favorable environment.

UNESCO and RRING began a country pilot case study. The two countries selected for the pilot are Lithuania and Ireland. The immediate goal of the pilot will be to assist the countries in preparing a self-assessment. But this may also set the bar for other countries to set up participative processes that are similar, so as to do their evaluations following the Lithuanian example.


Included experts from multiple sectors


The advisory group (Consultation Group) consists of experts from the four very different stakeholder groups who share an interest in upholding strong, healthy, and attractive Lithuanian research and innovation. They represent the public sector, Industry, Academia, and to lesser degree citizens and civil society.  Included are some international organizations; organizations representing science and technology educators; employers generally; learned societies, research performing organizations; associations of science writers; women in science associations; youth and student organizations.

During their meetings, the members of the group participated in the assessment exercise of how Lithuania performs against the standards related to responsible research and innovation.


RRING Project


For almost two decades, European initiatives have encouraged and promoted responsible research and innovation in academia, research, and research performing organizations (RPOs). Although there is a wealth of projects and consortium in this sector, a certain methodology is needed to use the acquired knowledge to drive and achieve great progress. That is why the RRING project seeks to connect researchers and research organizations into a strong community or network of professionals and has chosen a vision that reaches also to other parts of the globe, carrying these values forward.

“A strong network enables better mutual learning and cooperation in responsible research and innovation. We are in the process of creating a global network named the RRING community to develop and foster open access to a global knowledge base on Responsible Research and Innovation”, said Gordon Dalton, Project Coordinator.

Thus, RRING in this case will not provide a strategy that should be implemented from top to bottom. “Instead, we want to use a bottom-up approach, learning from best practices in Responsible Research and Innovation globally and from the professionals worldwide”, emphasizes Dalton.

This powerful network of science professionals is the driving vision of this new RRING community, established to develop a more connected world for responsible research and innovation.

Responsible Research and Innovation & Digital Inclusiveness during Covid-19 Crisis

By SalM on October 16, 2020 in COVID-19, News

Responsible Research and Innovation & Digital Inclusiveness during Covid-19 Crisis in the Human Brain Project (HBP)

Covid-19 changes the lives of all of us: Institutions and other places are closed; it is not possible to see friends and family personally and keeping a distance is the topmost commandment. Therefore, most of us are working from home and digitalisation is on the way up in many aspects of life. The HBP has a long-lasting experience of interdisciplinary collaboration by virtually bridging distances because its involved partners are not only complex but also spatially remote. In these challenging times of the pandemic, the HBP’s Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee together with the Ethics Rapporteur Programme has started “I-include”, an Initiative for Inclusive Digital Engagement to make sure that no one is left behind virtually and that diversity matters in digital collaborations. It offers recommendations based on the practical experiences of HBP members. Considering this new framework during the current situation is a way to ensure that our digitally distributed work becomes a valuable and successful experience corresponding to the standards of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). RRI is a dynamic, iterative process in which all stakeholders in research and innovation become mutually responsive and share responsibility for both the process and its outcomes. Even and particularly in difficult times.


I-include – Initiative for Inclusive Digital Engagement


The HBP, and each individual contributing to it has experience of interdisciplinary collaboration by virtually bridging distances. Departing from the framework of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), the HBP has dedicated itself to foster equal opportunities, and with a learning attitude, serve as a best practice example for projects characterised by complexity and spatial remoteness of involved partners. Embracing diversity, inclusiveness is especially relevant to make the nature of our distributed work a valuable, successful experience, in general, and especially in this Covid-19 crisis with most of us working from home. The following recommendations are based on the practical experience of HBP members.

1. Social and Family Life

Social and family life means taking care of each other, in a balanced way, with the means, hearts, and minds we can offer. For example, family and other social significative obligations vary depending on the changed living conditions. In times of crisis, women are often hit harder because existing gender inequalities are exacerbated.

The HBP recommends thus to

  • Keep in touch with your employees or team members, show interest and understanding for their private life domains. As long as team members work from their home offices: Don’t expect the same results, give more time, ensure additional feedback.
  • Share experiences and ideas, information that might be helpful like games or learning platforms for children, how to support family members or friends in need of help.

2. Stress and Anxiety

People react differently to a crisis, being confronted with bad news and statistics, being forced into different working modes and new forms of obligations, being cut off from well-established routines, colleagues and friends is stressful. How this stress can be processed depends not only on the personality, but also on the specific circumstances of life, which bring stability, or other factors of uncertainty, for example, the financial situation, personal health, or remoteness of friends and family members.

The HBP recommends thus to

  • Ask team members, how they are doing and what might help them. Make sure it is safe to speak up, for example, by revealing your concerns. Listen carefully and send messages of understanding. If adequate, offer virtual coaching.
  • Focus on “what needs to be done, and how to do it”: a working relationship must focus on work, and set a good framework enabling everyone to contribute to the best of their means.

3. Career Stage, Roles and Responsibilities

The impact a pandemic like Covid-19 can have on the professional situation depends, among others, on the educational background or scientific discipline and career stage of a person. While some can make progress by working from home, others might depend on lab work, contributions to conferences or a research stay abroad. Especially for early career stage scientists’ contracts might not be saved or at severe risk due to travel restrictions, no or restricted access to labs, and further resources crucially needed to progress.

The HBP recommends thus to

  • Set up individual meetings dedicated to career planning and to share in open dialogue experiences and thoughts, to learn how others have managed this situation and support each other. Use your networks to offer mentoring and sponsoring, or become an active mentor yourself.
  • Clarify with your university or organisations the different options of contracting under the given circumstances; provide as much security as possible. Ensure that letters of recommendation address special achievements under difficult conditions.

4. Team Spirit and Virtual Collaboration

Successful collaboration and team spirit often derive from joint activities in close proximity, the opportunity to get to know and understand each other both professionally and privately. Virtual environments lack the opportunity to dedicate the same amount of time and involve all senses, which is even more critical when cultural and professional differences come into play. Different cultures and personalities also lead to different ways of written conversation. Misunderstanding arises easily from written communication, especially when people are stressed and work on laptops and might overlook important information addressed in an email. Virtual meetings are better than emails and also better for the environment than meetings that involve at least several flights to get together. Still, they are more exhausting because movement in between meetings is missing, voices sound different, and it is unclear who looks at what on the monitor.

The HBP recommends thus to

  • Make sure there is enough time to get to know different work style preferences, explore and value talents and experiences, understand what everyone needs to get into top form in the virtual world. Build safety and offer a variety of different collaborative channels and ways to contribute. Check with everyone on a regular basis and get in touch with those members you might not have heard of for a while.
  • Be aware that emails might not arrive, end up in spam filters, the content might be overlooked or hard to interpret. Do not hesitate to ask twice if the message came, pick up your phone or favorite VC channel to clarify the details.
  • Make participants aware of the challenges of virtual meetings as well as the technical options of organising the meeting. Send documents beforehand, give enough time and opportunity to respond via different channels. Also, make use of chat rooms to raise questions and answer them in the correct order.
  • Keep meetings short and mindful and keep up in follow up meetings. Respect privacy and do not make it obligatory to have cameras turned on. Make everyone aware of the opportunity to show their names only, a preselected picture or a virtual background instead of their private environment.

Funding

Our research activities have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Specific Grant Agreement No. 785907 (Human Brain Project SGA2).

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Peter Zeckert (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany); Alastair Thompson and Evan Hancock (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland), Josepine Fernow (Uppsala University, Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB), Sweden), Julia Trattnig (Convelop, Austria), and Specific Grant Agreement No. 945539 (Human Brain Project SGA3) in the development of these recommendations.

Copyright

Copyright remains with the authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Under a Creative Commons license
open access

Guide Involving Communities in the COVID-19 Response

By SalM on October 8, 2020 in COVID-19

From how we continue to fight the pandemic, to what the new normal for our economy, environment and communities should look like, significant decisions need to be taken in the coming weeks and months with consequences that will be felt for years and decades.
This handbook is intended to support local authorities to consider how they can build back with their local communities, involving them in the Covid-19 response and recovery.

The handbook contains eight chapters, covering the following:

  • Chapter 2: Why involve people now – the rationale for involving local communities in the Covid response and recovery;
  • Chapter 3: Before you start – tips on making the case and securing institutional buy-in;
  • Chapter 4: Where to start – some principles for planning high quality public engagement;
  • Chapter 5: Helpful resources – a range of handy handbooks, guides and toolkits to help plan and deliver community engagement;
  • Chapter 6: Where it’s happening – examples and case studies engaging people in taking decisions and action around Covid;
  • Chapter 7: What it could look like – illustrative processes to provide some inspiration for how communities could be engaged on different issues;
  • Chapter 8: Further reading – links to interesting further reading on Covid, public participation and democracy

To read the full handbook prepared to you by Involve UK please click on the link below and download it

Building Back With – A guide to involving communities in the COVID-19 response and recovery for local government — Version 1_5

10 Tips for Researchers: How to Achieve Impact on Policy

By SalM on October 7, 2020 in News

As a part of its activities, RRING has a goal to establish the RRING community, the leading global community working together to develop the responsible research and innovation ecosystem, influence on policies and voice your opinion in legislation.

This is why the handbook dedicated to researchers and research organizations aiming to achieve policy impact, may be of interest for the members of the RRING community.

About the Handbook

The handbook is dedicated to researchers and research organisations aiming to achieve policy impact.

Today we face major policy challenges, which cannot be solved without scientific evidence.

Science and policy are different worlds, but they must collaborate closely in order to address wicked problems of our age.

The JRC has the mission to bring science and knowledge to the attention of EU policymakers.

Over the past years, we have embraced new types of knowledge and practices.

“For instance, we have invested in practices such as foresight, complexity science and collaborative working. They help us use our collective intelligence to see the bigger picture and anticipate upcoming scientific issues”, said JRC Unit Head David Mair.

In the newly released Science for Policy Handbook published with Elsevier, we share the lessons we have learnt along the way.

In a nutshell, these are our top tips for researchers and research organisations aiming to achieve policy impact:

Start with Policy 101

  • Understand policymaking first. What are the policy goals? How are decisions made? Who are the key actors?
  • Follow parliamentary debates, discussions on Twitter, and participate in policy-relevant events organised by think tanks, political parties, etc.
  • This will help you understand who may need relevant and timely evidence.
  • Put yourself in the policymaker’s shoes, empathising with their responsibility for decisions that may have serious consequences.

Question the questions

  • Discuss and define relevant questions together with policymakers and stakeholders. If you do not have direct access to policymakers, try to understand the issues and questions from public discussions.
  • Remain sceptical, but not cynical: challenge questions and assumptions from policymakers and stakeholders.
  • Do not hesitate to reframe the problems and be brave in suggesting other types of research evidence than those requested by policymakers (we all have blind spots).

Plan for policy impact early

  • Think about the policy impact of your research early, already when you design research projects.
  • Scientific curiosity is a powerful driver for research, but if you are serious about policy impact, be prepared to adapt your research to the needs of policy actors.
  • Plan for impact strategically: policymakers need quick responses and questions evolve with political discussions. Who from policy, civil society or industry would be interested in your results?

Policy impact is a team sport

  • Improving the use of scientific evidence in policymaking in a conscious and systematic manner is not an individual task but a collective effort.
  • This includes policymakers (demanding evidence) but also colleagues, networks, and organisations in research (supplying evidence). Do your colleagues know the policy implications of your work?
  • You may not always be in direct contact with policymakers, but your colleagues can be ambassadors for the evidence.

Become a critical friend

  • Trust is vital and it is only possible if science and policy work closely together. It is a direct function of reliable and open relationships, as well as a mutual understanding of needs, interests and values.
  • Relationships based on trust allow researchers to understand and embrace policymaking.
  • However, do not compromise your scientific integrity just to get the political message right. Be prepared to speak inconvenient truths.

Speak up in the policy debate

  • Networking (online and offline) beyond scientific circles helps you gain visibility and start to establish your trustworthiness in policy circles.
  • You can do it by being invited to speak at policy events organised by think tanks, NGOs, media or political parties.
  • Connect – online and offline – with relevant policymakers and other stakeholders. Use what you learn from the policy debates to fine-tune your work and make it more pertinent.
  • Point policymakers to research relevant to the question at issue at any moment in the debate.

Become bi-lingual in both science and policy

  • Communicating to policymakers requires different approaches than communicating to scientists.
  • Being able to tell a captivating story – that you can back up with facts – is sometimes more convincing than yet more facts. The aim of science is to know and the task of policy is to solve problems.
  • They also have different norms, cultures, language and timeframes. Adapt your language and communication practices to this time-pressed audience: use shorter, simpler formats, avoid jargon and technical details and use narratives and visualisations.
  • Moreover, take the opposite approach to scientific papers: start with the conclusions and leave background and methodologies for later. Think also of new channels: policymakers rarely read academic papers, but follow blogs, Twitter and listen to podcasts.
  • Remember that they seek robust and easily digestible scientific evidence.

Beware a single study

  • Policymakers may prefer a concise, cross-disciplinary synthesis of the existing knowledge base, instead of the latest piece of research. Scientific novelty is not always a virtue in policymaking.
  • Put your research in the context of wider knowledge and prioritise research synthesis and literature reviews.
  • Relevant findings even from a decade ago may bring more impact if they are still valid and relevant to a current problem.

Champion diversity – no single discipline has all the answers

  • Often your background as well as professional and personal values influence the choices that guide your research.
  • For instance, why did you choose a particular method, data set, or why do you discuss a specific subset of theories? It is important to be aware and open about how your background and values shape your research choices.
  • Encourage diverse expertise in the policymaking ‘room’.

Be clear about uncertainties and limitations

  • Avoid the temptation to smooth out uncertainties and disagreements within the knowledge base to try to help policymakers with a clearer message.
  • Communicate uncertainties and unknowns in understandable terms, avoiding scientific jargon.
  • Understanding the policy context helps you to judge which of these uncertainties and gaps are important for policy decisions.

Final reflection

  • Policymaking is complex and messy, and scientific evidence is only one part of the equation. Science cannot resolve value dilemmas or decide how to make the necessary trade-offs between different interests – that is for the politicians.
  • As excellent science, policy impact takes time. Sometimes you will not see it, especially not in the way you see citations, even if it does exist. And if you do succeed, policymakers may take the credit.
  • Accept it, try your best, and learn for the next time.

To read te article on the original source please follow the link below to the original source, European Union’s Science Hub website.

https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/10-tips-researchers-how-achieve-impact-policy

To download the handbook prepared to you by the EU Science Hub please click on the link below

10tips_impact.policy_infographic-fin

COVID-19 and Changes in Conduct and Share of Research

By SalM on October 4, 2020 in COVID-19

Our current research and social context – the coronavirus pandemic, economic upheaval, climate change, racial injustice – requires timely and reliable research results, shared equitably by, and with, all parts of the world.

The status quo for research communications

The mainstream system for research communications, which was built in the print age and has not evolved to meet the changing needs of the research community, is far from ideal and does not serve well the needs of research or society. The shortcomings are well known and include:

  • Long delays from submission to publication for articles and monographs
  • High costs for both to access publications through subscriptions, and to publish through article processing charges
  • Overlooked contributions with too much focus on the article or book as the final research product, rather than recognizing the full range of relevant contributions, such as data, metadata, preprints, and protocols
  • Lack of transparency in peer review and quality control mechanisms
  • Significant biases towards the interests of the global north and trendy research topics

These issues contribute to a sub-optimal communications milieu in which research efforts are hampered because investigators cannot access the full corpus of literature in their field, cannot text and data mine to extract new knowledge; and research findings are not available and cannot be readily adopted by other actors in society.

Despite widespread recognition of these problems, they have endured for many years, in large part because research communications has been predominantly outsourced to profit-driven commercial entities, whose missions do not align with those of the research community or the public at large.

How COVID19 has changed the landscape?

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has demonstrated that with enough political will, these issues can be overcome.

The intensity and volume of research related to COVID-19 has been unprecedented and governments and funders around the world have been calling for rapid and open sharing of research outputs.

The response has been remarkable and has led to unparalleled scientific progress. Early studies on the availability of COVID-19 research papers show that, while not all articles are open access with appropriate reuse licenses, the vast majority are freely available. Lag times from article submission to publication for COVID-19 articles have been greatly accelerated compared to the norm. And, both preprint and data sharing activities have intensified significantly. The issue of quality assurance and public confidence in research outcomes is a critical one. While some concerns have been expressed about whether quality control of publications and data is being compromised because of the speed with which research outcomes are being shared, it also seems to be the case that widespread openness can lead to increased scientific scrutiny and more rapid identification of inaccurate research conclusions. This shows that quality assurance can be implemented in such an environment.

Research communications has been predominantly outsourced to profit-driven commercial entities, whose missions do not align with those of the research community or the public at large.

But will this new, radically open research communications paradigm result in permanent change?

Many subscription publishers have temporarily made their COVID-19 content openly available, or are providing special conditions for libraries to allow researchers to access relevant collections, demonstrating that there is a willingness to adapt when there is a crisis of this proportion. However, some have already started to move their content back behind paywalls, or have indicated that they will do so in the near future.

COVID-19 has provided us with a relevant and practical example of the benefits of open science. The current moment should act as a catalyst for transforming the current flawed system of research communications into a global knowledge commons; a commons that is more efficient, inclusive, and governed by the scholarly community; a commons with no barriers to access or to publish research.

The global knowledge commons and how to get there

Transforming the system does not mean starting from scratch. We already have many elements of the global knowledge commons in place. There are thousands of repositories around the world, mostly hosted by long-lived and trusted organizations such as universities and research institutions, that collect and provide access to a wide variety of research outputs. And COAR is developing an overlay model that will integrate peer review and other types of evaluation services into the distributed international repository and preprint network, which will soon be piloted by several organizations.

These repositories are part of a substantial and growing community of open infrastructures that are committed to fair and inclusive open access, open data and open science. They exist alongside other services such as open and community-based journals and hosting services like RedalycOpenEdition, and African Journals Online (along with many others around the world), national and regional indexing and discovery networks like OpenAIRE, and LA Referencia, as well as other open tools and services. Together, these community-based, open infrastructures, which cost a fraction of the funds spent on the large commercial publishers, form the roots of a thriving and sustainable scholarly communications ecosystem.

Let’s build on the lessons we’ve learned through the COVID-19 pandemic. Or, in the words of Robert-Jan Smits, former director general of research and innovation at the European Commission, “Let’s turn this abnormal situation, in which COVID-19-relevant papers and data are shared widely, into a normal situation”.

We must start now to shift our resources towards open, community-based infrastructures and services whose values align with those of research and society. Let us not go back to business as usual once the pandemic is over. The problems facing the world today are just too important.


This article was taken from the LSE Website and it was written and prepared by Kathleen Shearer, Eloy Rodrigues, Bianca Amaro, Wolfram Horstmann, William Nixon, Daisy Selematsela, Martha Whitehead and Kazu Yamaji. Follow the link below to the original source of the article

COVID-19 has profoundly changed the way we conduct and share research. Let’s not return to business as usual when the pandemic is over!

Global RRI adoption and Convergence Strategy

By SalM on October 2, 2020 in News

About RRING Project

For almost two decades, European initiatives have encouraged and promoted responsible research and innovation in academia, research, and research performing organizations (RPOs). Although there is a wealth of projects and consortium in this sector, a certain methodology is needed to use the acquired knowledge to drive and achieve great progress. That is why the RRING project seeks to connect researchers and research organizations into a strong community or network of professionals and has chosen a vision that reaches also to other parts of the globe, carrying these values forward.

“A strong network enables better mutual learning and cooperation in responsible research and innovation. We are in the process of creating a global network named the RRING community to develop and foster open access to a global knowledge base on Responsible Research and Innovation”, said Gordon Dalton, Project Coordinator.

Thus, RRING in this case will not provide a strategy that should be implemented from top to bottom. “Instead, we want to use a bottom-up approach, learning from best practices in Responsible Research and Innovation globally and from the professionals worldwide”, emphasizes Dalton.

This powerful network of science professionals is the driving vision of this new RRING community, established to develop a more connected world for responsible resarch and innovation.

Structures and support measures for EU member countries developed by RRING and UNESCO

UNESCO is collaborating with the RRING project on developing structures and support measures for EU member countries that, once started, should be in place for the next round and future rounds of the 4-yearly evaluations in 2024 and 2028. In the meanwhile, they may also help government understand better what is working and not working in terms of its efforts to create a favorable environment.

UNESCO and RRING will begin a country pilot case study. The two countries selected for the pilot are Lithuania and Ireland. The immediate goal of the pilot will be to assist the countries in preparing a self-assessment. But this may also set the bar for other countries to set up participative processes that are similar, so as to do their evaluations following the Lithuanian example.

Included experts from multiple sectors

The advisory group (Consultation Group) consists of experts from the four very different stakeholder groups who share an interest in upholding strong, healthy, and attractive Lithuanian research and innovation. They represent public sector, Industry, Academia and to a lesser degree citizens and civil society.  Included are some international organizations; organizations representing science and technology educators; employers generally; learned societies, research performing organizations; associations of science writers; women in science associations; youth and student organizations.

During their meetings, the members of the group will participate in the assessment exercise of how Lithuania performs against the standards related to responsible research and innovation.


RRING works on the activity of Work Package 6 – Global RRI Adoption and Convergence Strategy and this activity will be finalized at the end of April, 2021 when the RRING Project comes to an end, after which the RRING Community stays as a sustainable community which goal is to “Create a Framework and Strategy to ensure maximum impact of global RRI adoption and convergence.

Follow the RRING Project activities and become a part of RRING Community!

Joining forces for a global 21st century Responsible Research and Innovation Network

By SalM on October 2, 2020 in RRING NEWS

The RRING network, the NewHoRRIzon and the ORION project recently (September 3) held an online interactive roundtable as part of the European Scientific Open Forum 2020 on Joining forces for a global network of responsible research and innovation in the 21st century.

The purpose of the session was to consider the number of projects and initiatives currently operating in this area and the need for a global network to share common experiences from projects funded by the European Commission and other important initiatives internationally.


Discussion: How the RRI network can leverage most of the existing know-how,  results and impact for a sustainable vision


How the development of the RRI network can leverage most of the existing know-how,  results and impact, while ensuring that a sustainable vision for RRI is global in its outlook and engagement, was one of the topics of discussion. The framework for RRI and what could be its challenges and benefits were also discussed.

The round table was chaired by dr. Gordon Dalton RRING project coordinator, and the initial presentations of dr. Erich Griessler – NewHorizon project and Maria Hagardt – ORION Open Science project.  All three projects are funded under the SwafS programme of Horizon 2020.


Panel discussion: RRI framework and network


An interactive discussion was followed by utilising an online voting tool to encourage panel discussion, chaired by Emma Day Vitae. The panel consisted of John Crowley, UNESCO, Marion Boland, Science Foundation Ireland, Jessica Wyndham, AAAs and Gail Cardew, EUROSCIENCE.
The discussion focused on two topics of the RRI framework and the RRI network. The audience was able to give their opinion to the expert panel using a network tool.


Interesting observations: A global network highly valued


The discussion led to some interesting observations. First, the idea of ​​a global network was highly valued:

  • A global RRI network would have a positive impact
  • The global RRI network should have tangible benefits, including a communication platform or knowledge transfer mechanism. The least important was purposeless networking.
  • There are several benefits to the RRI framework, including advocacy for the approach and providing clear guidance – barriers and benefits must be linked
  • The RRI network should promote the advocacy for legitimization of RRIs and performance metrics.

However, there are still challenges ahead:

  • How familiar people are with RRI? – 31% of roundtable participants did not know anything yet, while only 6% thought they were experts. Work must be done to spread the knowledge on RRI
  • RRI is considered to be a priority for individuals themselves rather than for departments or institutions – This may show that the audience is personally committed to RRI and what it achieves, but does not have the opportunity to follow it at the institutional level.
  • RRI is considered to be a higher priority at the international than the national level, which may reflect the EU’s success in promoting RRI initiatives across Europe.
  • Lack of incentives and research culture can stop individuals engaging in RRI

Get involved and give your opinion


As a result of this discussion, the RRING team now seeks for broader perspectives on this topic. We, therefore, encourage representatives of all stakeholders to click here and participate in this short online survey.  A six-month trial of the global RRI network has been started and we invite all stakeholders to join here.