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

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

on October 16, 2020

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.