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.


Global Responsible Research and Innovation convergence opportunities and limitations and strategies

By SalM on October 1, 2020 in News

As part of its activities, RRING is preparing a Comparative Analysis of State of the Art (SOA): ‘Global Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) convergence opportunities and limitations and strategies’, that will be completed by the end of December.

A comparative analysis will identify key Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) players, leaders and networks globally, which are relevant to gender, diversity and inclusion. It will also include policy drivers and focus areas, terminology, and both the short- and medium-term horizon. This comparative analysis includes: 

  • Comparative analysis (high level) across the geographies, for all Research Performing Organisations – RPOs (academic and industry) and Research funding Organisations -RFOs 
  • In-depth Comparative analysis across the 4 Key Domains. 
  • Comparison of “linked up global” extent, the role of nation-states and international organizations in this global world. 
  • Global RRI mutual learning and cooperation opportunities and limitations 
  • Identification of best practice under the differing context 
  • Identification of key RRI players, leaders and networks and platforms in RRI globally 

Comparative analysis across the 5 UNESCO regions will be included and the 4 key domain areas of ICT, Bio-economy, Waste management and Energy.  This will cover good practice influenced by RRI/AIRR framework. In order to analyse the RRI element with respect to key RRI players, leaders and networks globally, RRING will also focus on: 

  • Identifying how the outcomes of research and innovation align with the values and expectations of society 
  • Examining the extent to which all the groups involved in, and affected by research and innovation work together e.g. How teams and decision-making bodies have balanced gender representations; the extent to which gender equality, diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality are considered as part of the R&I process and content to provide results that are useful for all citizens. 
  • Determining how voices across a diversity of communities are involved in research, from its conception to its commercialisation. 

The State of the Art (SOA) Review by Key Research and Innovation Geographies

By SalM on September 29, 2020 in RRING NEWS

The RRING project team is working on a state of the art review (SOA) by key geographic research and innovation groups and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI territories), which will be completed by the end of January.
The key geographical areas integrated into this report are the EU, including the associated countries and Russia, North America, South America, China, India, Africa, and SE Asia, including Japan and Korea.
In line with one of the objectives of the RRING project, the research is the first step towards “aligning RRI with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to obtain a global common result for the improvement of RRI and to address global challenges. “.

What is the most important SDG in each geography?


The RRING team conducted desktop research, using UN reports as well as voluntary national reviews (as submitted to the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)) to identify the most important goals of sustainable development in each region (called ‘geography’ in this task)). As geographical regions, they use 5 regions defined by the UN for its regional commissions, and its monitoring of sustainable development goals, noting that each country is different and that regional averages can be misleading because 5 global regions show internal diversity.

Parts I and II record what UN sources indicate the current status of progress in implementing the SDGs; III. part relies on structured interviews with UNESCO experts on gender equality, scientific education, public engagement, open access and ethics to report on what they consider to be the most likely positive effects, which would indicate the achievement of a fully defined aspect of RDI could have on achieving a specific SDG / goal.

Finally, in Part IV, this report focuses on the reasons why respondents in Part III explained how RDI can address the objectives identified in the interviews.

The RRING project will go into further detail on what possible strategies exist to promote RRI while achieving the 2030 Agenda.


What is the most important SDG in each geography?


No state has been found to explicitly prioritize among the sustainable development goals or objectives. No regional group has explicitly adopted the hierarchy.

In the political agenda theory of which the SDGs are a part (Agenda 2030), all 17 SDGs are equally important from each country and region. This also applies to all their goals. All of them should be achieved by all countries by 2030.

From this perspective, the issue of this research is controversial even before we started researching it, because they are all important, no more than any other. This report is not on track to be achieved by 2030, and when there is sufficient information to set priorities, the most important are those that are least likely to be achieved.

The bulk of this report summarizes the findings of the joint work of several UN agencies to assess which SDGs are “on track” and “not on track” for achievements by geographic region. Those who are not on the road can be considered the most important.

If every country were to truly meet all the sustainable development goals and all the goals by the completion date, it currently seems that the most effort will be needed in what is not on the way. They may vary by region. For example, this report will conclude that SDG 1 on poverty is “most important” in Africa, not most important in Europe.


The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019


In July 2019, the High-Level Policy Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress in the last remaining set of sustainable development goals. 142 countries have now presented their voluntary national reviews. All SDGs are now featured on the HLPF. As mentioned above, this year actually closes the first cycle of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019, prepared by the UN DESA Statistics Division, was also launched in July with contributions from more than 50 international and regional organizations. It provides charts, infographics and SDG progress maps and presents a detailed analysis of selected indicators. In addition, the report highlights regional progress and analysis.

The report is accompanied by a comprehensive statistical annex and a Global Database of SDG Indicators with data on countries and regions that can also be accessed interactively on the Sustainable Development Goals Indicators website.

These data provide a clear overview of the progress made so far in the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the challenges that still exist, in each country and region. This lets us select the data we need from countries and regions to determine if there are trends. However, since these are UN documents, they can only aggregate the information provided by the Member States to identify gaps (and call those gaps priorities). They do not reflect how each country or region implements SDGs, except in this broad sense of progress made on the basis of already known measurements (eg the quality of integrating SDGs into national legislation would not be visible in aggregate records, except through illustrations). Nevertheless, there are broad conclusions about the gaps that need to be addressed, which can be called priorities, because all countries have committed themselves to meet all the goals of sustainable development. These conclusions are supported by the most comprehensive policy process and available documentation and are considered a reliable source for setting priorities.

According to the report, the two main challenges facing the world are:

  • Climate change
  • Inequalities among and within countries

These two challenges are both corresponding to respectively SDG 13 ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts ‘and SDG 10 ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’. Though progress has been made, poverty remains an issue in many parts of the world, and hunger has actually been increasing in recent years. This issue has been posing a threat and it should be battled over the decades that are coming in front of us and we all need to put in a joint effort for these issues to be addressed properly in order to eradicate them from our societies.

 

RRING Project Involved in Horrizon Result Booster

By SalM on September 27, 2020 in RRING NEWS

About Horrizon Result Booster

Horizon Results Booster is a new package of specialised services to maximise the impact of R&I public investment and further amplify the added value of the Framework Programmes (FPs). It helps to bring a continual stream of innovation to the market and beyond. It will help to speed up the journey towards creating an impact, providing support to remove bottlenecks.

Benefit from “à la carte” tailor-made services designed to build your capacity for disseminating research results. Get support, increase your project results’ exploitation potential and improve your access to markets. Services are delivered to FP7 and H2020 projects at no cost and fully supported by the European Commission.

Important to mention is that RRING Project is involved in the Modules A and C, which will be presented to you in the following part of this article, and they are

  • Module A: Identifying and creating the portfolio of R&I project results
  • Module C: Assisting projects to improve their existing exploitation strategy

Module A

Identifying and creating the portfolio of R&I project results

This module supports the creation of a portfolio of results that are suitable for dissemination. Following the formation of the project groups/portfolios, you will receive guidance to identify similar ongoing projects from any other EU, national and regional funding initiatives. This service also includes a comprehensive mapping of the relevant stakeholders/target audience for each particular portfolio.

  • For a single project or project group from which at least one project was funded under FP7 or H2020, ongoing or closed.
  • This service is only available to projects or project groups that show a united interest in maximizing their dissemination potential.

Module C

Assisting projects to improve their existing exploitation strategy

This service will provide guidance and training to improve the existing project strategies of projects towards effective exploitation of key exploitable results.
The exploitation strategy will improve the following aspects:

  • review of the key exploitable results of the project;
  • revise, complement and clarify existing exploitation plans of project results and/or outline exploitation paths of results;
  • techniques to identify all relevant stakeholders in the exploitation value chain;
  • support to perform a risk analysis related to the exploitation of results.

This service is available for single project funded under FP7 or H2020, ongoing or closed with identified key exploitable results.

Involvement in the Go To Market

RRING Project will eventually be involved in the Go To Market of the, which has the aim of this service is to assist beneficiaries in making their project results ready for commercialization. The service will support beneficiaries to identify and/or address potential obstacles to the exploitation of project results and reach commercialization.

This service prepares project beneficiaries to take their project results to the market. The service provides assistance, coaching, mentoring, contacts with the market stakeholders regarding:

  • pitching, presenting a product(s) or service(s) to potential investors, identification of relevant events for pitching (forums, trade fairs, expos), identification of venture capital and/or traditional funding mechanisms, guidance on how to follow up a pitch;
  • support and guidance for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): introduction to IP services, guidance regarding the procedures, definitions and regulations on IPR, as well as patenting, IP licensing and sale; freedom of operations – due diligence, transfer of IP;
  • training in innovation management (product, process and resulting organisational changes);
  • business services – co-designing a plan for commercial development, feasibility studies to assess potential business plans, support in the creation of spin-offs and start-ups;
  • examining exploitation/business implementation options;
  • introduction to non-EU funding opportunities available and support in your application.

This service is available for single project or project group from which at least one project was funded under FP7 or H2020, ongoing or closed, with identified key exploitable results, a dissemination and exploitation plan and an advanced business plan (or completed service 2).

The Science of Persuasion Offers Lessons for COVID-19 Prevention

By SalM on September 25, 2020 in News

Look to the science of persuasion, says communications professor Dominique Brossard, PhD. Brossard is part of a new National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine group called the Societal Experts Action Network, or SEAN, whose recent report lays out research-based strategies to encourage COVID-19–mitigating behaviors.

Brossard says the changes must feel easy to do—and to repeat, which helps to form habits. Past public health campaigns also suggest it’s wise to know and understand one’s target audience, and to tailor messages and messengers accordingly.

“It’s difficult to change people’s behavior at the massive level,” Brossard, chair of the life sciences communications department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a recent interview with JAMA. The following is an edited version of that conversation.

JAMA:You and your coauthors write that simply explaining the science of COVID-19 and its risks will rarely translate to a change in attitudes and behaviors, even if people understand and accept the facts. Why isn’t it enough to explain the science if you want to change health behaviors?

Dr Brossard:Because human beings rely more on the psychological dimensions of the risk than the quantitative aspect of the risk. If experts measure risk in numbers, such as the probability of getting harmed by something, human beings in general—you and me included—look at what we call the qualitative aspect of that risk: the potential magnitude of the effect, the potential dread, how much it may impact people [close] to us, and so on. So, psychological dimensions.

JAMA: How does that translate to people’s unwillingness to change their attitudes and behaviors?

Dr Brossard: If we’re asked to do something new, that will impact our willingness to do it for a variety of reasons. It might be because people around us, our social network, the norms around us tell us that this is something that’s not acceptable. It might be because it’s a little inconvenient. It might be because we forget about it. At the end of the day, when we perform certain behaviors, rarely do we think about the science that tells us why we shouldn’t do it and why this might be dangerous. We do it because, as social animals, we pay attention to cues that our minds tell us to pay attention to and our community and people around us tell us to pay attention to. Therefore, our behavior is really based on the psychological components rather than more quantifiable aspects.

JAMA: Your report recommends 5 habit-promoting strategies: make the behavior easy to start and repeat; make the behavior rewarding to repeat; tie the behavior to an existing habit; alert people to behaviors that conflict with existing habits and provide alternative behaviors; and provide specific descriptions of desired behaviors. How can these strategies be applied today?

Dr Brossard: People are more likely to act in healthy ways when it’s easy for them to perform that behavior. So let’s think in terms of hand washing, for example. It will be very important to have hand washing stations and hand sanitizer easily accessible to people. Making the behavior very easy to start and to repeat is very important. If you put a mask next to your front door, and it’s easy to grab when you go out the door, that’s going to be easy to implement and you may be more likely to actually do it again. If you want to encourage people to physically distance from other people around them, having signs on the floor is actually something that works. They don’t have to calculate in their mind: what does it mean to be physically distanced? How far am I from other people? They simply stand where the mark tells them. It makes the behavior easy to repeat and easy to perform.

JAMA: So you’re trying to take away any barriers to the behaviors?

Dr Brossard: Exactly. The idea is if you take away as many barriers as possible, you encourage people to repeat the behavior. And then you end up creating a habit.

JAMA: In your report you mentioned that having many hand sanitizer stations sets the norm—that it’s normal to hand sanitize.

Dr Brossard: Mask wearing and physically distancing are new habits we’re creating from scratch. As social animals, that’s not something we do, in general. However, hand washing is a habit that we would have hoped the population already had. The problem is it hasn’t been really implemented. People do it very inconsistently. If you have hand sanitizers everywhere, it’s very easy. As a matter of fact, in supermarkets, when you have the hand sanitizer at the door, people line up and do it. So it’s that idea of the social norm and making it sound like, this is something you do, it’s widely available, other people do it as well, and therefore, this is socially acceptable and highly encouraged, and we should just all do it.

JAMA: The report also discusses 10 strategies for communicating risk, like using clear, consistent, and transparent messaging. It feels like that’s the opposite of what we’ve had. What’s your take on the federal government’s messaging around COVID-19 mitigation?

Dr Brossard: I think that in this case what’s really crucial is the messaging at the local level. At the state level vs county level vs town level, having a consistent strategy, consistent messages, is very important. It’s clear that for public health–related issues, really what makes a difference is the action of local leaders. It’s really the community-based action that can change people’s behavior. At the local level people trust the doctors, the public health officials.

JAMA: Masks unfortunately have become politicized. Is it too late for universal masking to be accepted or do you think minds can still be changed?

Dr Brossard: You will always have extremes on both ends. The vast majority of the population will be somewhere in between. People that are extremely set on the attitude not to wear a mask, which is, by the way, a very, very small minority, are unlikely to change their views. However, all the others can change their views. People are reasonable in the sense that they want to protect their own, they want to protect the community, they want to have the economy reopen, and so on. So I would say, yes, there’s still hope. And we see it. Every week, our group at the SEAN Network publishes a summary of all the polls that address [COVID-19–related] behaviors. We see that mask wearing is increasing. It’s not yet at the level that we would like to make sure that we are protected, but it’s indeed increasing.

JAMA: You reported that highlighting crowded beaches or people who aren’t wearing masks can be counterproductive. Why? And what’s a better approach?

Dr Brossard: They end up thinking that it’s a more prevalent behavior than it actually is. Or it may actually prompt them to think, “Oh, I wish I was on the beach.” You want to highlight good behavior and make it sound like this is socially acceptable rather than highlighting undesirable behavior and making it sound like it’s more frequent than it actually is.

JAMA: So local leaders should emphasize that mask wearing is increasing, for example?

Dr Brossard: Exactly. The research on social norms is extremely, extremely important here. We tend to get cues based on the people around us. Human beings have something that we call fear of isolation. We don’t like to be the lonely person that is the only one doing a certain thing when the vast majority around us are doing another thing. So it’s very important to actually show, “Look, this is going in this direction. Political leaders from both sides of the spectrum are doing it.” To show that the desirable behavior is something that’s becoming prevalent and that this is the direction society is taking.

JAMA: One lesson in your report is that it’s important to concede uncertainty. Why should leaders say things like, “Based on what we know today…”?

Dr Brossard:This is a really key message of risk communication. If you highlight something as being certain and then the science changes and suddenly you say, “Well, wait a minute, actually this was wrong, and now it is this,” you destroy trust. Science evolves, particularly in the context of COVID-19. We are all discovering this virus. The social sciences have shown that acknowledging uncertainty will actually increase trust, much more than painting things as certain. So it’s very important to say, “Based on the science of today, this is what we should do.” It’s very important to show that it’s a work in progress.

JAMA: What about the messengers themselves? Have we tapped into social media influencers enough? And who are community influencers that have the power to change our collective behaviors?

Dr Brossard: It makes us think of the AIDS community, where the leaders of the communities were messengers in helping promote protective behaviors. Using messengers that are trusted by the target audiences and relying on social media is extremely important. And as far as influencers in the communities, this will depend from one community to the other. Let’s take Wisconsin, for example. Football is a sport that people enjoy regardless of their political ideology, age, and so on. So the [Green Bay] Packers are messengers that transcend potential barriers there. It’s important to find trusted messengers that can connect with the audience on social media but also face-to-face. That can be a trusted local business leader, for example.

JAMA: What have we learned from past public health campaigns, like antismoking and wearing seatbelts, that can be applied now?

Dr Brossard: In the ’70s, we had social marketing approaches that suggested that we needed to stop trying to educate people and actually adapt a marketing technique to social issues. The antismoking Truth campaign, as it was called, was a successful application of social marketing techniques. The idea that you need to segment your audience and tailor the message specifically to that audience is something that the Truth campaign very well illustrated. A specific audience that needed to be targeted was adolescents and teenagers, and one thing that adolescents do is rebel against authority. They don’t like people to force them to do things. So the Truth campaign tried to appeal to their drive for autonomy by showing them that the tobacco industry was taking advantage of the adolescent population. That was extremely powerful.

The problem is that a mass media campaign like that can be extremely, extremely expensive. That’s why it’s very important also to rely on what we think of as organic dissemination of messaging through social media, which we couldn’t do when the Truth campaign was put together.


To read the full interview please follow the link to the original source of this interview, JAMA Website.

Link to the full interview

How to measure progress on the priority areas of the Recommendation on Science?

By SalM on September 24, 2020 in News

As a part of the RRING project, we developed measures that can be employed at different levels in member state scientific systems to evaluate progress towards full implementation of the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers.

Dr. Eric Jensen, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the International Consortium of Research Staff Associations (ICoRSA) Policy Research Unit, partner on the RRING, GRRIP and MUSICA Project, recently presented an indicators framework for the implementation and evaluation of the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers (RSSR), focusing on 10 key priority areas.

The five levels of indicators developed through RRING can be used in concert to provide a progress picture in the implementation of the Recommendation on Science: including ‘top-down’ (government and funders) and ‘bottom-up’ (research staff, research performing organisations and general public) levels.


Levels of measurement


By applying indicators across the levels, we can track the progress of the implementation of these recommendations from national policy through to research funding systems, research performing organisations and finally to individual researchers.

1.  Member State (National Reporting)
  • Traditional focus for UN statistics
  • Representatives for the Member State report objective statistics to give a high level picture
2. Research Funding Organisations (RFOs)
  • A key way Member States can implement the RSSR is through research funding allocations and policies.
  • Prioritisation of mission-oriented funding, strings attached and selection criteria in competitive application processes can help align a Member State’s research system with RSSR principles.
3. Research Performing Organizations (RPOs)
  • The institutions employing research staff are central in the research system, affecting how researchers are treated, supported and maintained in sustainable careers.
  • While RPOs often take cues from governments and research funders, they have their own norms, policies and practices.
  • This means that such organisations are important to evaluate directly to understand progress at this crucial institutional level.
4. Research Staff
  • Individual research staff are a key player in the RSSR, whose voice should be included in assessments of progress in RSSR implementation.
  • We provide indicators to provide the ‘bottom up’ vantage point of individual researchers.
5. General public
  • A number of RSSR principles have implications for public views on the role of science.
  • Indicator dimension focusing on the public aspect of the RSSR priority areas can be aligned to existing measures such as The Wellcome Trust Global Monitor.

About Dr. Eric Jensen, Senior Research Fellow and director of ICoRSA Policy Research Unit


Professor Eric A. Jensen has a global reputation in social research and impact evaluation of public and stakeholder engagement with science. Jensen is currently Senior Research Fellow at ICoRSA (International Consortium of Research Staff Associations), working on the RRING (rring.eu) and GRRIP (grrip.eu) projects about responsible research and innovation.

Dr. Jensen’s track record includes over 100 publications- including peer-reviewed journal articles in Nature, Conservation Biology, Public Understanding of Science, and books and book chapters published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, as well as high profile government-commissioned reports- and dozens of major projects on science communication, public engagement and responsible research and innovation. He has worked as an evaluation trainer, advisor and consultant for many government departments, agencies and public engagement institutions globally, such as Science Foundation Ireland, Science Gallery Dublin, the European Space Agency, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, CERN, Arts Council England, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Association of Science & Technology Centers and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Jensen’s PhD is in sociology from the University of Cambridge. His expertise spans themes relating to evidence-based science communication, public engagement, research impact and responsible research and innovation policies and practices.

For access to some of Dr Jensen’s publications see:
• https://warwick.academia.edu/EricJensen
• LinkedIn Profile

Global Perspective on how to be a good ally

By SalM on September 22, 2020 in RRING NEWS

At the “I, Scientist” conference held from September 16-19, 2020 on the importance of gender, career path and networking, Dr. Eric Jensen, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the ICoRSA Policy Research Unit, presented the global perspectives on how to be a good ally in the context of gender equality and ethnic diversity. These are the results of our research conducted by International Consortium of Research Staff Associations (ICoRSA) within the RRING Project.

The survey included 2198 responses with a completion rate of 70% or more. Five RRING World Regions were included in the analysis (following UNESCO regions of the world): European and North American States; Latin-American and Caribbean States; Asian and Pacific States; African States; Arab States.

As a part of the study, the research included questions on Gender Equality and Ethnic Minorities Equality.

Gender equality is linked to sustainable development and is vital to the realization of human rights for all. The overall objective of gender equality is a society in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights, and obligations in all spheres of life. The specific context of the survey is related to gender equality in research and innovation work.

Dr. Jensen emphasised why is it important to include ethnic minorities in the research and innovation work while introducing the audience with, how different people from around the world think about how to be a good ally, and the role of gender and racial equality in their respected workplace.

 


Global Survey on the importance of Gender and Ethnic Equality


Gender Equality and Ethnic Minorities

  • There were a lot of responses around the world on numerous aspects of social responsibility in science and innovation.
  • 2198 Responses with a completion rate of 70% or more.
  • 539 responses with a completion rate of less than 70%
  • The average completion rate of the survey was 97%


First View:
Quantitative Results Gender Equality

It is important to promote gender equality in my research & innovation work.

There was a strong agreement all around the world concerning this statement.

  • Latin America has had the highest level of agreement.
  • Latin America was leading slightly with 62% strongly agreeing.
  • More neutral views in Europe and North America (15%).

“It is important to include ethnic minorities in my research & innovation work”

There was widespread agreement with this statement. The overall sentiment was leaning heavily on the agreement.

  • Latin America and the Caribbean slightly with 42% strongly agreeing.
  • Comparatively high percentages indicating a neutral view (13%-22%)
The main focus of the presentation was the open-ended responses about specific steps

The data was analysed in a specific approach called Content Analysis – a method for analysing open-ended dana on the steps taken by respondents to address the different dimensions of social responsibility.

All open-ended responses were analyzed by two independent coders (analysts) to ensure reliability.


Content Analysis

The content analysis includes the following steps:

  1. A coding guide for each open-ended question, providing analysts with detailed descriptions on how to categorize certain responses
  2. Coder briefings as introductions to the analyses
  3. Test-coding and de-briefings to tackle issues before proceeding with a final coding
  4. Calculating the inter-coder reliability as a measure of agreement between the analysts for each open-ended question.

Gender Equality

Follow-up question:

„Please list the steps you have taken to promote gender equality in your research and innovation work.“

Gender Equality Categories

GE1  -The first 18 percent were categorised as nonspecific, vague, platitude or virtue signalling (18% of participants)
Responses suggesting they promote or support gender equality without mentioning any practical steps.

  • Example: „Working on promoting gender in my work.“

These suggest promote or support gender equality but do not provide specific steps.
Not adding any specificity – a vague response.
a decent chunk of people gave this response.

GE2  – Gender equality in R&I, within an academic environment (81% of participants)

Responses indicating they take practical steps to promote gender equality in R&I activities.

This category has two subcategories:

Specific steps to enhance gender equality in R&I work

GE2.1.1 Gender equality in R&I, within an academic environment (general)
(30% of participants)

Responses about promoting gender equality without providing specific steps.

30 percent identified general things that they did.

  • Example: „My research topic has a gender element.“

GE2.1.2Gender Equality in R&I, within an academic environment (specific) (51% of participants)
These responses were indicating specific steps taken to ensure gender equality.

  • Example: “I have sought to promote gender equality in hiring office admin staff encouraging and promoting fellow women colleagues work in front of the higher management.”

Gender Equality Overview of steps taken

  • Other steps are taken: 27%
  • Fostering gender equality in the workforce: 24%
  • Gender as a substantive dimension in R&I work: 13%
  • Promoting/mentorship of female researchers: 11%
  • Fostering gender equality in staff recruitment: 8%
  • Promoting gender equality through delivering or attending training: 8%
  • Promoting women in R&I decision-making/senior positions: 6%
  • Integrating gender equality in research participant selection: 5%
  • Compliance with rules / regulations: 3%
  • Participation in or engagement with equality committees: 3%
  • Supporting female researchers publications: 2%

Gender Equality Categories

GE2.2.1 Supporting female researches publications, co-authorship, academic citations (2% of participants)
For example collaboration with female research partners and publication of a shared report.

  • Example:” Balance between women’s and men’s visibility in publication.”

GE2.2.2Integrating gender equality in research participant selection (5% of participants)
Selection processes and mechanisms such as representative samples.

  • Example: “Equal selection of the research participants by gender.”

GE2.2.3Fostering gender equality in R&I teams (24% of participants)
Ensuring parity between men and women, and diverse gender representation in research teams.

  • Example: “I make sure my research team represents women and men equally.”

GE2.2.4Integrating gender as a substantive dimension/focus of R&I content/practice (13% of participants)
R&I focuses on addressing gender equality issues, e.g. pay gap.

  • Example: “My current research is focusing on discrimination against women working in the technology industry.”

GE2.2.5Promoting/mentorship of female researchers (11% of participants)

  • Example: “I encouraged a female colleague to undertake a Ph.D., I will be on her supervisory panel in a mentoring role.”

GE2.2.6Promoting women in R&I decision-making roles and senior positions
(6% of participants) was a less prevalent step mentioned

  • Example: “Drafted an unprecedented number of women to selection panels of scientific grand applications

GE2.2.7Ensuring gender equality in process of recruitment and selection of R&I staff
(8% of participants) another step people took.
Efforts making recruitment in R&I contexts fairer for, or less discriminatory against women.

  • Example: “When hiring ensure that both men and women have equal opportunity.”

GE2.2.8 Promoting gender equality through delivering or attending training (8% of participants)

  • Example: “Promote gender equality in a public lecture.”

GE2.2.9Participation in or engagement with equality committees (3% of participants)

  • Example: “Meet and discuss issues with the Equality committee.”

GE2.2.10Compliance with rules, regulations, and legal obligations (3% of participants)

  • Example: “Signed up to provisions of my university and EU policies on gender balance and equality.”

GE2.2.11Other gender equality promotion step is taken (27% of participants)
Steps that do not belong to any of the above categories.

  • Example: “We use gender-neutral language in our reports and in general.”

GE3 Unclear/Uncertain (2% of participants)


Ethnic Equality

Follow-up question:

“please list the steps you have taken to include ethnic minorities in your research and innovation work.”

EM1Non-specific, vague, platitude or virtue signaling (18% of participants)
Responses suggesting they promote or support racial/ethnic equality without mentioning any practical steps.

  • Example: “Racial/ethnic equality is my entire focus.”

EM2 Racial/ethnic equality in R&I and the academic environment is the largest category (78% of participants)
Responses indicating they take to promote or support racial/ethnic equality in R&I activities.

This category has two subcategories:

Specific steps to enhance gender equality in R&I work

EM2.1.1Racial/ethnic equality within the R&I environment (general) (44% of participants)
Responses about promoting racial/ethnic equality without providing specific steps.

  • Example: “I involved various ethnic minorities in a new European project.”

EM2.1.2Racial/ethnic equality within the R&I environment (specific) (34% of participants)
Responses indicating specific steps taken to ensure gender equality.

  • Example: “Identify gaps areas where ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the organization, research and learn best practices on racial/ethnic equality.”

Distribution of different categories:

  • Integrating ethnicity as a substantive dimension of R&I work: 18%
  • Integrating ethnic equality in research participant selection: 16%
  • Fostering ethnic equality in the workforce: 15%
  • Other steps are taken: 15%
  • Promoting / mentorships of ethnic minorities: 10%
  • Ensuring ethnic equality in staff recruitment: 9%
  • Promoting ethnic equality through delivering/attending training: 3%
  • Supporting ethnic minorities’ publications, co-authorships, citations: 2%
  • Compliance with rules/regulations: 2%
  • Promoting ethnic minorities in decision-making: 1%
  • Participation in or engagement with relevant equality committees: 1%

EM2.2.1Supporting racial/ethnic minority researchers publications,
                  co-authorships, academic citations (2% of participants)
For example, collaborating with researchers from ethnic minority groups and publication of a shared report.

  • Example: “I encouraged ethnic minority researchers to co-author two of my papers.”

EM2.2.2Integrating racial /ethnic equality in research participant selection (16% of participants).
Selection processes and mechanisms as representative samples.

  • Example: “Ensuring the representation of minority research participants in the community.”

EM2.2.3Fostering racial/ethnic equality in R&I teams (15% of participants)
Ensuring the representation of ethnic minorities in research teams, and diverse racial representation in collaborations.

  • Example: “I make sure that races/ethnicities are appropriately represented in my working groups.”

EM2.2.4Integrating race/ethnicity as a substantive dimension/focus of R&I content/practice (18% of participants)
Addressing race/ethnicity issues in research, e.g. xenophobia

  • Example: “Research I am working on focuses on integrating indigenous people’s needs and concerns in forest fire and haze management strategies.”

EM2.2.5Promotion/mentorship of ethnic minority researches/innovators
(10% of participants)

  • Example: “Support ethnic minority researches to secure funding and industry linkages.”

EM2.2.6Promoting ethnic minorities in R&I decision – making roles and senior positions (1% of participants)

  • Example: “We promote staff according to certain diversity quotas, which include ethnic minorities.”

EM2.2.7Ensuring racial/ethnic equality in process of recruitment and selection of R&I staff (9% of participants)
Efforts making recruitment in R&I context fairer for, or less discriminatory against ethnic minorities.

  • Example: “I intentionally hire people from different ethnic groups in all roles in my research center.”

EM2.2.8Promoting racial/ethnic equality through delivering or attending training (3% of participants)

  • Example: “I joined a course on diversity in research and innovation.”

EM2.2.9Participation in or engagement with equality committees (1% of participants)

  • Example: “Participation in institutional committees tasked with promoting racial/ethnic equality/inclusivity.”

EM2.2.10Compliance with rules, regulations, and legal obligations (2% of participants)

  • Example: “My department follows the rules, regulations, and legal obligations (2% of participants)
  • Example: “My department follows the institution’s rules on ethnic diversity when hiring new staff.”

EM2.2.11Other racial/ethnic equality promotion step taken (15% participants)
This category was usually used for cases that had sufficient information to be coded for EM2 but insufficient information to code more precisely.

EM3 – Downplaying, minimizing, and excusing ethnic diversity issues in R&I (6% of participants)
Responses downplaying the necessity to address ethnic issues, or attributing a lower priority to them.

  • Example: “I agree it’s important but not at all costs.”
So these are the steps that people are taking around the world in the context of trying to enhance gender equality and the integration of ethnic minorities into Research and Integration work.

This presentation was covered in the conference “I, Scientist”: https://year2020.iscientist.de

Professor Eric A. Jensen has a global reputation in social research and impact evaluation of public and stakeholder engagement with science. Jensen is currently Senior Research Fellow at ICoRSA (International Consortium of Research Staff Associations), working on the RRING (rring.eu) and GRRIP (grrip.eu) projects about responsible research and innovation.

Dr. Jensen’s track record includes over 100 publications- including peer-reviewed journal articles in Nature, Conservation Biology, Public Understanding of Science, and books and book chapters published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, as well as high profile government-commissioned reports- and dozens of major projects on science communication, public engagement and responsible research and innovation. He has worked as an evaluation trainer, advisor and consultant for many government departments, agencies and public engagement institutions globally, such as Science Foundation Ireland, Science Gallery Dublin, the European Space Agency, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, CERN, Arts Council England, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, Association of Science & Technology Centers and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Jensen’s PhD is in sociology from the University of Cambridge. His expertise spans themes relating to evidence-based science communication, public engagement, research impact and responsible research and innovation policies and practices.

For access to some of Dr Jensen’s publications see:
https://warwick.academia.edu/EricJensen
LinkedIn Profile

Dr. Eric Jensen
Senior Research Fellow and director of ICoRSA Policy Research Unit

ICoRSA, e.jensen@icorsa.org
rring.eu
grrip.eu
musica-project.eu