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Historically, scientific and engineering expertise has been key in shaping research and innovation (R&I) policies, with benefits presumed to accrue to society more broadly over time (1). But there is persistent and growing concern about whether and how ethical and societal values are integrated into R&I policies and governance, as we confront public disbelief in science and political suspicion toward evidence-based policy-making (2). Erosion of such a social contract with science limits the ability of democratic societies to deal with challenges presented by new, disruptive technologies, such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, automation and robotics, and artificial intelligence. Many policy efforts have emerged in response to such concerns, one prominent example being Europe's Eighth Framework Programme, Horizon 2020 (H2020), whose focus on “Responsible Research and Innovation” (RRI) provides a case study for the translation of such normative perspectives into concrete policy action and implementation. Our analysis of this H2020 RRI approach suggests a lack of consistent integration of elements such as ethics, open access, open innovation, and public engagement. On the basis of our evaluation, we suggest possible pathways for strengthening efforts to deliver R&I policies that deepen mutually beneficial science and society relationships.
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Improve alignment of research policy and societal values
Science
Novitzky, Peter; Bernstein, Michael J.; Blok, Vincent; Braun, Robert; Chan, Tung Tung et al
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb3415
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By Peter Novitzky,1 Michael J. Bernstein,2
Vincent Blok,1 Robert Braun,3 Tung Tung
Chan,4 Wout Lamers,4 Anne Loeber,5 Ingeborg
Meijer,4 Ralf Lindner,6 Erich Griessler3
Historically, scientific and engineering
expertise has been key in shaping re-
search and innovation (R&I) policies,
with benefits presumed to accrue to
society more broadly over time (1).
But there is persistent and growing
concern about whether and how ethical and
societal values are integrated into R&I poli-
cies and governance, as we confront public
disbelief in science and political suspicion
toward evidence-based policy-making (2).
Erosion of such a social contract with sci-
ence limits the ability of democratic so-
cieties to deal with challenges presented
by new, disruptive technologies, such as
synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic
engineering, automation and robotics, and
artificial intelligence. Many policy efforts
have emerged in response to such concerns,
one prominent example being Europe’s
Eighth Framework Programme, Horizon
2020 (H2020), whose focus on “Responsible
Research and Innovation” (RRI) provides a
case study for the translation of such nor-
mative perspectives into concrete policy
action and implementation. Our analysis of
this H2020 RRI approach suggests a lack of
consistent integration of elements such as
ethics, open access, open innovation, and
public engagement. On the basis of our
evaluation, we suggest possible pathways
for strengthening efforts to deliver R&I
policies that deepen mutually beneficial sci-
ence and society relationships.
Alignment of R&I objectives with societal
benefits, which transcend exclusive economic
value, is a globally relevant concern (3). Aspi-
ration of stronger science and society interre-
lationships have been visible in U.S. research
management efforts, as well as in Canada
and Europe. In H2020, to which the Euro-
pean Commission (EC) allocated nearly €80
billion for the 2014–2020 funding period, the
EC enumerated RRI as a priority across all
of H2020 activities (a “cross-cutting issue”) to
deepen science and society relationships and
be responsive to societal challenges. To date,
€1.88 billion have been invested across 200
different R&I areas (e.g., quantum comput-
ing, graphene nanotechnology, human brain
research, artificial intelligence) in more than
1100 projects related to various dimensions
of RRI (see the figure). Inclusion of RRI in
H2020 reflected the commitment of the
European Union (EU) to the precautionary
principle with regard to R&I policy, and the
deepening commitment of the EC to main-
stream concerns related to science and soci-
ety integration (4, 5).
RRI principles and practices have been
designed to enhance inclusive and demo-
cratic modes of conducting R&I to reflect
current forms and aspirations of society
(4). Formal adoption and exploitation of
RRI in H2020 coalesced around six the-
matic domains of responsibility (“keys”):
public engagement, gender equality, sci-
ence education and science literacy, open
access, ethics, and governance (6). As a
relatively young concept, these six keys
cover only a part of RRI as it is discussed
in the academic literature. Their integra-
tion in the European R&I ecosystem was
advanced by various political- and policy-
level ambitions (3–5). The forthcoming
Ninth Framework Programme, Horizon
Europe (2021–2027), includes further men-
tion of RRI, as well as additional efforts
to increase responsiveness of science to
society through elements of the so-called
“three O’s agenda” (i.e., open innovation,
open science, openness to the world) (7).
SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
I mprove alignment of research
policy and societal values
1Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen,
Netherlands. 2Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.
3Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Austria. 4Centre
for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University,
Leiden, Netherlands. 5University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam,
Netherlands. 6Fraunhofer Insitute for Systems and Innovation
Research, Karlsruhe, Germany. Email: pnovitzky@gmail.com;
vincent.blok@wur.nl
The EU promotes Responsible Research and Innovation in
principle, but implementation leaves much to be desired
POLICY FORUM
PHOTO: GORODENKOFF/ISTOCK.COM
Horizon 2020 aims to integrate research policy and
societal concerns, including about gender in science,
and about disruptive technologies such as robotics.
3 JULY 2020 • VOL 369 ISSUE 6499 39SCIENCE sciencemag.org
Published by AAAS
sciencemag.org SCIENCE40 3 JULY 2020 • VOL 369 ISSUE 6499
INSIGHTS |
POLICY FORUM
GRAPHIC: X. LIU/SCIENCE
Despite this fairly extensive history of EC
investment in mainstreaming activities, a
recent survey of more than 3100 European
researcher recipients of H2020 funding
showed that a vast majority of respondents
were not familiar with the concept of RRI
(8). Although these findings by no means
suggest that researchers are irresponsible,
they raise questions about the success of
the EC approach to embedding normative
targets for responsibility into R&I. The need
for systematic evaluation is clear (9). Our
study contributes to a legacy of research on
the efficacy of framework programmes in
light of various EC ambitions (10).
METHODS AND FINDINGS
To answer our question about policy in-
tegration and implementation of RRI in
H2020, we conducted a mixed method
investigation in three stages: (i) desktop
research, (ii) interviews, and (iii) case re-
search [see supplementary materials (SM)
S10 for details]. First, we collected and
reviewed relevant documentation of the
four H2020 Programme Sections (Excel-
lent Science, Industrial Leadership, Soci-
etal Challenges, Diversity of Approaches)
and 19 respective subthemes available on
the websites of the EC. This included re-
views of documents at the following levels:
policy, scoping, work package, calls, proj-
ects, proposal templates, and evaluations.
Review of documents extended to all three
periods of H2020 (2014–2015, 2016–2017,
and 2018–2020) and employed the six EC
RRI keys as indicators.
Second, we conducted interviews with rep-
resentatives (n = 257) of seven stakeholder
groups within the 19 subthemes of H2020.
Third, using natural language processing
algorithms, we obtained and analyzed texts
describing project objectives of all the H2020
projects (ongoing and finished, n = 13,644)
available on the CORDIS Portal, which pro-
vides information on EU-funded R&I activi-
ties. We examined how proposal language
and RRI policies translate into project ac-
tivities across H2020 using text-mining ap-
proaches. We carried out keyword frequency
analysis by applying a selection of 10 to 12
keywords (SM S8) associated with each of the
six RRI keys. This resulted in an “RRI score”
for each of six keys for each H2020 project
(SM S13). This subsequent case research cov-
ered all three H2020 periods (i.e., 2014–2015,
2016–2017, and 2018–2020).
At each of these stages we produced re-
ports for each corresponding subtheme (SM
S11). The resulting body of 19 reports was
then systematically reviewed for levels of
policy integration. The policy-integration
levels were qualitatively assessed with the
EC’s own indicator assessment (6).
Internal H2020 documents
Number of occurrences
0
80
20
40
60
Gender Ethics Public
engagement
Open to
the world
Open
science
Open
innovation
Science
literacy
Open
access
Governance
Six keys Three O's
H2020 stakeholder interviews
Number of occurrences
5
10
15
20
25
0
Gender Ethics Public
engagement
Open to
the world
Open
science
Open
innovation
Science
literacy
Open
access
Governance
Six keys Three O's
H2020 project objectives
Number of occurrences
Gender Ethics Public
engagement
Open to
the world
Open
science
Open
innovation
Science
literacy
Open
access
Governance
0
100
150
250
50
200
300
Six keys Three O's
Quality of representation
High Some Superfcial
Limited
How well is Responsible Research and Innovation
represented in Horizon 2020?
Limited high-quality reference to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) suggests that it has largely
been referred to without proper understanding, or as an empty signifier. Data combine all four Horizon 2020
(H2020) program sections and reflect the amount and quality of representation of six RRI keys and three “O’s,
across three levels: samples of internal H2020 program documents, H2020 stakeholder interviews, and
H2020 project objectives. Comparison across keys within a given level is straightforward; all values are drawn
from the same underlying materials. Comparison across levels within a given key should focus on relative
proportions of the four colors within a given level, not on absolute values; analyses drew upon different types
and amounts of underlying materials in each level. See supplementary materials for details.
Published by AAAS
3 JULY 2020 • VOL 369 ISSUE 6499 41SCIENCE sciencemag.org
This assessment demonstrates which el-
ements of the RRI framework were initially
defined by the policy-makers (desktop level),
which RRI attributes the stakeholders were
most aware of (interview level), and which
RRI elements were manifested in project
proposals (case level) (SM S12; see the fig-
ure). RRI as a concept has been present in
most of the four Programme Sections of
H2020, and particular RRI policy elements
emerge as prominent in certain subthemes,
especially those addressing societal chal-
lenges or explicitly promoting the uptake
of RRI. But RRI overall has largely been re-
ferred to either without proper understand-
ing of its definition, or as empty signifier,
suggesting lack of compliance with the EC’s
interpretation of the RRI concept (see the
figure; SM S9). Integration of the three O’s
agenda, contemplated as a successor to the
RRI framework, lagged behind that of the
six RRI keys; a finding consistent with in-
troduction of the agenda in the later stages
of H2020.
DISCUSSION
Our results suggest that the integration of
the RRI framework into H2020 has fallen
short of stated EC ambitions. Our data
show substantial discrepancies between the
inclusion of RRI concepts within official
subtheme documents (e.g., on policy and
work programme levels), and awareness of
RRI by interviewees working on projects
funded by such subthemes (see the figure).
Absence of RRI keys across the majority of
programme subtheme evaluation criteria is
a telling example.
Such evidence suggests that (i) the RRI
framework is still an evolving concept, the
development of which hinders its proper
understanding by those who are supposed
to use it; (ii) such individuals have only su-
perficial understanding of the notion for
its effective exploitation; and (iii) although
the RRI framework is present on the de-
clarative, strategic policy level (scoping and
subtheme general description), it wanes in
funding calls (policy operationalization)
and is largely absent in evaluation criteria
used in proposal assessment. Collectively,
these points further suggest that applicants
have little in the way of consistently aligned
incentives to regard RRI as relevant in pro-
posal design and submission.
Although (i) and (ii) are primarily a matter
of a lack of adequate information, awareness
and training, (iii) points to limitations of
European science policy efforts related to the
pursuit of RRI. Such translation failures are
typically caused by interplay of different log-
ics of negotiation at the different levels (11),
a linear model of innovation appealing to
scientific excellence in R&I (12), actors’ resis-
tance to change, path dependencies, cogni-
tive boundaries, and competing policy agen-
das (13). As the issues covered by RRI are
normatively claimed to be of high relevance
by political decision-makers, as evidenced in
several EC documents, we conclude that the
problem is one of policy integration strategy
and implementation (14). The lack of clarity
in conceptualizing RRI for research policy
and governance, the limited understanding
among key stakeholders, and the concept’s
conflation with other—often conflicting—
policy goals (e.g., scientific excellence, eco-
nomic value, technological readiness) hinder
the emergence of a specific RRI-oriented
policy frame (15). Such conflicting policy
goals are palpable at the core of European
research funding (e.g., supporting either
mission-oriented innovation or curiosity-
driven basic research in key funding instru-
ments) and highlight the structural tensions
between the normative ideals and potential
instrumentalization (3).
There are some limitations of this study that
must be taken into account when interpreting
results. First, the measurements were cross-
sectional and though representative, are not
exhaustive. Generalizability of findings could
be increased if the study were to extend in a
longitudinal fashion and possibly to better
elaborate causal relationships among factors.
Second, although we employed mixed methods
in our investigation, the number of interviews
and case studies could be further increased
to provide additional qualitative information
about the dynamics of RRI at the project level.
Third, as the framework programme remains
ongoing, our analysis was not able to evaluate
the entire H2020 corpus. Although the results
indicate evidence of patchy RRI implementa-
tion, highlighting the need for more consistent
support to help align EC science policy and so-
cietal values, the progress made is nontrivial,
given the history of science (1).
A clear discrepancy exists between the
expressed strong normative position on
RRI and its integration in concrete poli-
cies and practices. Fully integrating RRI as
a strong normative position into research
funding and governance is a necessary but
not sufficient first step to creating a work-
ing policy system that drives RRI integra-
tion. Longer-lived investments are needed
for building a shared understanding and
awareness of the relevance of responsibility
in R&I among key stakeholders. Integrating
responsibility into research funding further
requires RRI to shift from a “cross-cutting
issue” to a “strategic concern” that receives
consistent and sustained embedding in call
texts and project selection criteria. This
will require “policy entrepreneurs” who can
stimulate interactions across subthemes
to foster alignment of RRI integration and
translation. In addition, a range of integra-
tion policies are required at the system level
and within subthemes, in which the issue of
RRI is adopted as a goal. This is pertinent
as, in case of such integration failures, it is
often the normative position that is called
into question instead of the implementa-
tion strategy, or actual integration pathway.
The EC would benefit from enhancing pre-
vious efforts to integrate RRI and so affirm
its role as a leader of ethically acceptable
and societally responsible R&I on the world
stage. Otherwise Europe needlessly under-
cuts its ability to direct research toward
tackling societal challenges in ways compat-
ible with its values. j
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This project received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020
research and innovation programme under grant agreement
no. 741402. We acknowledge all the consortium members who
contributed to the data collection and writing of the reports
(SM S11), which this study is based on. We express our grati-
tude to H. Tobi and N. Mejlgaard, as well as to the reviewers, for
their helpful and constructive comments.
SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS
science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6499/39/suppl/DC1
10.1126/science.abb3415
Published by AAAS
... Despite the relevance attributed to RRI for enhancing the democratic governance of research and innovation, the need to clarify the arguments behind RRI policies putting practices in place has been acknowledged [16][17][18]. Overall, RRI means a wide variety of stakeholders working together to align both research processes and outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society [17][18][19][20]. However, turning the ideals of bottom-up engagement or citizen involvement into institutional action [21], has proven challenging. ...
... The European Union (EU) has systematically promoted efforts to integrate societal values into research policy and improve the implementation of RRI [19]. Although studies of RRI implementation have been published [66], the operationalization and institutionalization of RRI principles are still in progress (see e.g. ...
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There are important lessons to be learned for research policy from the history, philosophy and sociology of science. Current European research policies make a number of assumptions about the role of scientific research and innovation in our economies and societies. They also make assumptions about the governability of scientific research by public management and quantitative tools such as research indicators. These assumptions have their history and they (often implicitly) rely on particular philosophical and political commitments. At the time of writing (2013) Europe is faced with serious economic and political challenges. Accordingly, it is a good time to rethink fundamental assumptions. With this purpose, this report displays and discusses some central features and principles of European history and philosophy of science.
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Online available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6404/762.2
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Policy studies has always been interested in analyzing and improving the sets of policy tools adopted by governments to correct policy problems and better understanding and improving processes of policy analysis and policy formulation in order to do so. Past studies have helped clarify the role of historical processes, policy capacities and design intentions in affecting policy formulation processes, and more recently in understanding how the bundling of multiple policy elements together to meet policy goals can be better understood and done. While this work has progressed, however, the discussion of what goals policy designs should serve remains disjointed. Here it is argued that a central goal, in fact, the central goal, of policy design is effectiveness. Effectiveness serves as the basic goal of any design, upon which is built other goals such as efficiency or equity. (The book is Open Access: https://www.cambridge.org/core/elements/designing-for-policy-effectiveness/4AAF295069C78389EC25D409A1BE88B3#fndtn-information)
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Multifaceted problems such as sustainable development typically involve complex arrangements of institutions and instruments and the subject of how best to design and operate such 'mixes', 'bundles' or 'portfolios' of policy tools is an ongoing issue in this area. One aspect of this question is that some mixes are more difficult to design and operate than others. The paper argues that, ceteris paribus, complex policy-making faces substantial risks of failure when horizontal or vertical dimensions of policy-making are not well integrated. The paper outlines a model of policy mix types which highlights the design problems associated with more complex arrangements and presents two case studies of similarly structured mixes in the areas of marine parks in Australia and coastal zone management in Europe—one a failure and the other a successful case of integration—to illustrate how such mixes can be better designed and managed more effectively.
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There has been a growing focus, among both policymakers and researchers, on ideas of responsible research and innovation, as a way to ensure that new sources of public value are captured. The EC defines RRI as " a process where all societal actors (researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organisations etc) work together during the whole R&I process in order to better align R&I outcomes to the values, needs and expectations of European society ". In operational terms, it brings together under the RRI umbrella dimensions of engagement, gender, education, open access, ethics and governance. RRI is a highly relevant area for policy. Therefore the EC has commissioned a study on 'Monitoring the Evolution and Benefits of Responsible Research and Innovation' (MoRRI). It contributes conceptual work on RRI, provides extensive exploration of existing metrics capturing RRI, and develops new indicators requiring primary data collection. Indicator development is based upon an intervention logic that builds mainly on the five dimensions mentioned complemented by the horizontal dimension of governance. Monitoring is suggested to build upon a set of 6x6 indicators that were selected from a broader number of potential indicators that were validated in a multi-level process. Initial data collection was used to testing these indicators, whereby the emphasis is put on using both quantitative and qualitative methods for all areas. The lack of adequate measures of responsibility in research and innovation hampers the mainstreaming of RRI. While 'pairing' responsibility and scientific excellence is an explicit aim for the RRI agenda, they are in reality often perceived as contradictory demands by the individual scientists or viewed as unequally important concerns by the research performing-and research funding – organisations. Identification of useful indicators and metrics for RRI might contribute to bringing issues of responsibility from a peripheral position and closer to the center of activity. This paper concludes with a reflection on evidence of 'benefits' or impacts of RRI. Being able to identify such benefits goes beyond the rather simplistic idea of monitoring RRI through indicators. Identifiable benefits will further help in shaping and refining indicators. And finding a common denominator in a broad diversity of benefits helps policy in structuring further mainstreaming of RRI.
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The term responsible (research and) innovation has gained increasing EU policy relevance in the last two years, in particular within the European Commission’s Science in Society programme, in the context of the Horizon 2020 Strategy. We provide a brief historical overview of the concept, and identify three distinct features that are emerging from associated discourses. The first is an emphasis on the democratic governance of the purposes of research and innovation and their orientation towards the ‘right impacts’. The second is responsiveness, emphasising the integration and institutionalisation of established approaches of anticipation, reflection and deliberation in and around research and innovation, influencing the direction of these and associated policy. The third concerns the framing of responsibility itself in the context of research and innovation as collective activities with uncertain and unpredictable consequences. Finally, we reflect on possible motivations for responsible innovation itself.
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In its current Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, the European Commission identified Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) as a cross-cutting issue. The responsibility for RRI as a cross-cutting issue lies with the subprogramme Science with and for Society (SwafS). A recurrent theme in the SwafS Expert Advisory Group meetings was the lack of clarity about what RRI is supposed to be. This is an entrance point into a broader reflection on RRI discourse being like the new clothes of the emperor – or perhaps there is not even an emperor (yet). What is happening in and around RRI can be interpreted as conferring reality on this emperor (RRI) by clothing him.
  • M Polanyi
  • J Ziman
  • S Fuller
M. Polanyi, J. Ziman, S. Fuller, Minerva 38, 1 (2000).