In theory, the responsible conduct of research leads to greater trust in scientific findings, fosters a healthy academic culture in which scientists can flourish, and promotes a productive and mutually beneficial relationship between science and society. In practice, this is achieved by improving transparency and accountability in research practice, by incorporating fairness, respect, and recognition in how findings and researchers themselves are evaluated, and by ensuring honesty and integrity in how results are communicated. Currently, however, we know little about whether what constitutes ‘responsible research’ should be the same irrespective of discipline, or across institutions.
This project’s first aim is to address this gap by developing an understanding of how responsible research is conceived and realized, both across disciplines, and across institutions in the EU and UK. A targeted review of the literature, and engagement with responsible research experts will establish such an understanding in this first phase.
Phase two will see the development of a ‘responsible research community of practice’, informed by the outcomes of phase one. This community will be organized around the principles of a diversified and transdisciplinary conceptualization of responsible research, and its members will work together to improve ways of working and generate learning. In this phase, we will rely on stewards, who, with our support, will interface with local groups, to develop a responsible research modus operandi. This will involve informing and tailoring local governance structures and research activity.
Finally, in phase three, the responsible research steward activity will be evaluated, and a framework to enable ongoing assessment and evaluation will be developed.