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Engagement and Responsibility in R&I

The Engagement and Responsibility in R&I thematic hub is one of the four research hubs at CWTS. This thematic hub is led by Ingeborg Meijer and Ismael Rafols.


This theme explores the societal implications and responsibilities of research and innovation. It aims to enquire how R&I can engage with society and be best mobilised to improve well-being. The theme follows from previous policy and scholarly efforts to make R&I more attuned to social concerns regarding issues such as sustainability, technological risk, integrity and social justice. It brings together those interested in how dimensions of responsibility such as Anticipation, Reflection, Inclusion and Responsiveness are developed in different contexts and stages of the research cycle, from agenda setting, to project execution and outreach and engagement. Questions include:

  • Is research addressing topics that are seen as important or urgent from societal perspectives? How does research address health needs, climate change, tor other pressing societal demands?
    • e.g. priority setting in research by developing tools for mapping research activities against societal topics (for example in terms of Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Is research carried out responsibly, with integrity and in ways that foster responsible innovation?
    • e.g. looking into practices and effects of the RRI keys, including public engagement, ethics/integrity, gender equality, citizen science, and open science (see specific theme).
  • How are broader social, democratic, economic and environmental impacts achieved? How do stakeholders use R&D or academic knowledge?
    • e.g. understanding the mechanisms of knowledge exchange and bidirectional interactions between academia and other social actors.

Most projects involve mixed-methods approaches and collaborations with diverse societal stakeholders. We aim to build on various methodological traditions of public engagement of S&T.

Ongoing projects related to the theme

  • NewHoRRIzon: this includes “Society Readiness Thinking Tool”  plus the UN Sustainable Development Goals/Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) analysis on the basis of keywords of proposal objective text;
  • SUPER_MoRRi: RRI for keys, and (longitudinal) case studies
  • SoPs4RI: promoting excellent research and a strong integrity culture that aligns with the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity;
  • Open Science Monitor: includes case studies with drivers and barriers for opening up science;
  • R-Quest: case study in cardiology in which boundaries between quality and impact/bidirectional interaction are explored. Normal and Extraordinary Impact will be investigated as well (in collaboration with Gunnar Sivertsen);
  • STRINGS: Steering Research and Innovation for the Global Goals (SPRU). Mapping development pathways for science, technology and innovation that best address the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • H2020 CHERRIES: regional RRI focusing on health in three regions (Spain, Sweden and Cyprus).


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