Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
Expert group report published by the European Union

Indicators for promoting and monitoring RRI

The European Union recently published a new expert group report called "Indicators for promoting and monitoring Responsible Research and Innovation". The expert group was chaired by Roger Strand, professor at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities and the CCBIO, University of Bergen.

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Main content

The principle of Responsible Research and Innovation - RRI - came into prominence as it became a so-called cross-cutting principle of Horizon 2020. While still in its infancy, RRI is being implemented in a variety of ways in H2020 as well as in national research programmes, including those funded by the Research Council of Norway. In its most general definition, RRI is concerned with Science becoming more responsive to and better aligned with the values, needs and concerns of Society. It is reasonable, however, that RRI policies and practices themselves become subject of scrutiny and criticism as they gain weight and importance. Within the European Union, policy indicators is a preferred tool for monitoring, evaluating and self-criticising their policies. In 2014, an expert group was set up to design and select possible indicators for RRI as well as evaluating existing RRI-like indicators.

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). 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.

Read the full version of the report