TRACK Responsible Research and Innovation


S31: Understanding, monitoring, evaluating and assessing the impacts of RRI

Elisabeth FRANKUS, Erich GRIESSLER, Magdalena WICHER (IHS - Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna), Austria; Richard WOOLLEY (INGENIO), Spain

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an increasingly important concept within the European science and innovation landscape. This is despite the continuing lack of a commonly accepted frame and definition of RRI and the diverse understandings of its content and technical details that circulate.
Operationalizing RRI, whilst also developing a valid framework and associated methodology for monitoring and assessing its effects, remains challenging. Nevertheless, RRI has been implemented in a patchwork of organisations and locations and traces of its impacts are now starting to emerge.
RRI, as a normative concept, wants to be open, reflexive, inclusive, adaptive, anticipative and flexible. It wants to drive change in a direction that produces R&I outputs and impacts that are more relevant, inclusive, legitimate, etc. It aims to substantively change the content and ways of doing research and innovation. But is RRI shaping the impact of science, research and innovation on societal stakeholders and challenges, or not?

This session is interested in contributions on the impact of RRI from a range of perspectives. On the one hand, we would like to discuss how we understand, monitor and assess the impacts of RRI interventions along different dimensions. On the other hand, how do/can we understand whether RRI reshapes and reconfigures the impacts of science, research and innovation in ways that are beneficial to society – as the normative construct seems to imply that it should.

As the concept itself remains vague and ambiguous, this makes it even more difficult to evaluate and monitor RRI practices, their implementation, practical implications and impacts. Significant effort is made to define evaluation and monitoring criteria for assessing the impacts of RRI interventions and the impacts of the change in the R&I system. A variety of approaches seem relevant and potentially rewarding: formative evaluation frameworks, summative evaluation frameworks, process evaluations, impact assessments and definition of impact criteria, and so forth.
We want to provide a space to share experiences and knowledge about how RRI is, or could be, evaluated and monitored in a way that it stays true to its own precepts (being reflexive, inclusive, etc.). This includes also the reflection on one’s own position and tasks: can we be critical enough and take position of an “independent” voice in working with a normative concept such as RRI? We invite contributors with ideas or experience regarding the monitoring and evaluating of projects that have a distinct reference to RRI or aligned approaches (e.g. implementation of gender or ethics processes within projects) and have experiences in assessing the impacts that RRI has on the R&I system, it´s actors and its outputs.

Speakers are welcome to give a short presentation and then - according to the diversity of contributions – get into an interactive format with the plenary to exchange knowledge and experiences.

KEYWORDS: RRI, impact assessment, evaluation, monitoring, reconfiguring impacts of science


S32: Innovative support structures for the implementation of RRI in practice

Sandra KARNER, (IFZ - Interuniversity Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture); Magdalena WICHER (IHS); Maria SCHRAMMEL, Elisabeth UNTERFRAUNER, Ilse MARSCHALEK (ZSI - Centre for Social Innovation), Silvia HAFELLNER (Joanneum Research), Austria

According to the European Commission , “Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) implies that societal actors (researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organizations, etc.) work together during the whole research and innovation process in order to better align both the process and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society.” This claim demands for tailored engagement processes, which lead at its best to co-creation processes. The design and practical implementation of such processes, which are supposed to include “the widest possible diversity of actors that would not normally interact with each other”, is not always an easy task and involves various challenges. On the one hand, it needs additional resources by means of sufficient funds and time, for both, researchers and non-research actors, and on the other hand it also needs appropriate competencies and skills.

The actors engaging with each other in an RRI activity are not necessarily RRI experts from the beginning and they need to build capacity over time. Thus, advice and support by third parties could be helpful and increase the uptake of RRI in practice, and therefore lead to a structured process. Such support structures could offer their RRI expertise and consult or even guide the multi-actor group throughout the process, or they could offer trainings.
There are various ways how these support structures could be organised: for example, it might be institutionalised departments within R&I organisations similar to research support offices at Universities, or independent organisations, or services alike could even build on a community of practice, a network of persons, who have profound RRI expertise and offer support on demand. Some of these support structures already exist across Europe (and probably beyond?). The  aim of this session is to learn from existing institutionalised forms of RRI support, and to jointly discuss and further develop innovative ideas, options and initiatives to set up such structures. Thus, the session addresses colleagues, who are interested in sharing their experiences, and who are interested to join forces in RRI support capacity building.

The session wants to use an open, alternative format for discussion, which will be adapted and planned according to the contributions.

KEYWORDS: RRI, multi-actor processes, capacity building, support structures