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New EU Expert Report Chaired by CCBIO Ethics Researcher Roger Strand

EU recently published an expert report on the design of indicators for promoting and monitoring Responsible Research and Innovation. Roger Strand, CCBIO's principal investigator on ethical and social aspects, was the Chairman of the expert group.

collage of the earth with a stetoscope wrapped around.
Responsible Research and Innovation
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In Strand's opinion, several ofthe indicators for ethics, open science, public engagement and more could prove useful in CCBIO teaching and research planning.

 

Responsible research and innovation

Both in the EU and in Norway, the concept of RRI - Responsible Research and Innovation - is gaining momentum in research policy. It became a so-called cross-cutting principle of Horizon 2020. RRI is concerned with Science becoming more responsive to and better aligned with the values, needs and concerns of Society.

 

RRI at CCBIO

While the CCBIO is a centre of excellence with a special responsibility also to perform fundamental research, the ethical and social relevance of research on cancer biomarkers is obvious. CCBIO strives for good interaction with patients, industry, authorities and civil society. This is where the principle of RRI can be conceptually useful. RRI is already included as part of our PhD course CCBIO903 "Cancer Research: ethical, economic and social aspects". We believe this to be an important part of the thinking of tomorrow's research leaders and more generally leaders within the health care system.

 

The RRI Indicator Report

As RRI is gaining weight, it is reasonable that RRI policies and practices themselves become subject of scrutiny and criticism. Within the European Union, policy indicators is a preferred tool for monitoring, evaluating and self-criticising their policies. 

The expert report recommends a network approach to indicators. If RRI is to be assessed by a standard "package" of numerical indicators, it is likely to lose its transformative potential and degrade into bureaucratic rituals. Instead, the choice of evaluation scheme, including the choice of indicators, of any given RRI policy or practice should in itself be a process of good governance that includes the relevant stakeholders in lively and real discussion. Accordingly, the report offers a great variety of indicators for the various so-called "keys" of RRI currently in use by the European Commission (ethics, gender equality, public engagement, science education, open access and governance).

 

Sustainability and social justice

The report also predicts a continuous development of the RRI principle itself. First, it envisions that "open access" will develop into the broader and more ambitious concept of "open science". Secondly, it points out that RRI and Horizon 2020 itself are both policies directed towards the more general Europe 2020 strategy of "smart, inclusive and sustainable growth". RRI indicators should therefore be developed to encompass the aspects of social justice and inclusion as well as sustainability.