Responsible Research and Innovation

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Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a term used by the European Union's Framework Programmes to describe scientific research and technological development processes that take into account effects and potential impacts on the environment and society.[1][2][3][4] It gained visibility around the year 2010,[5] arising from predecessors including "ELSA" (Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects) studies prompted by the Human Genome Project.[6][7] Various slightly different definitions of RRI emerged, but all of them agree that societal challenges should be a primary focus of scientific research, and moreover they agree upon the methods by which that goal should be achieved.[8] RRI involves holding research to high ethical standards, ensuring gender equality in the scientific community, investing policy-makers with the responsibility to avoid harmful effects of innovation, engaging the communities affected by innovation and ensuring that they have the knowledge necessary to understand the implications by furthering science education and Open Access.[4] Organizations that adopted the RRI terminology include the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the latter of which incorporated the language of RRI into their pre-existing program for funding "Societally Responsible Innovating".[9][10][11]

"Horizon 2020", the European Commission's program for science funding announced in 2013, made RRI a main focus.[12] In 2014, it was suggested that the "broader impacts" criteria of the National Science Foundation were, despite certain dissimilarities, in effect coming to resemble RRI standards.[13]

One area in which RRI principles are being applied is quantum computing. A research collaboration led by Oxford University within the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme aims to reveal how quantum computing can be socially and economically transformative, and to identify the potential downsides of the "disruption" it might bring about.[14]

Among the criticisms voiced about RRI, prominent concerns include the vagueness of the terminology, the possibility of discouraging blue skies research and the lack of sufficient practical reward for embracing RRI in a research culture based on competition and short-term contracts.[12]


  1. ^ von Schomberg, René (2013). "A Vision of Responsible Research and Innovation" (PDF). Responsible Innovation. Responsible Innovation: Managing the Responsible Emergence of Science and Innovation in Society. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 51–74. doi:10.1002/9781118551424.ch3. ISBN 9781119966364.
  2. ^ European Commission (2013). "Options for Strengthening Responsible Research and Innovation - Report of the Expert Group on the State of Art in Europe on Responsible Research and Innovation" (PDF). Publications Office. doi:10.2777/46253. Retrieved 24 June 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Zwart, Hub; Landeweerd, Laurens; van Rooij, Arjan (2014-05-14). "Adapt or perish? Assessing the recent shift in the European research funding arena from 'ELSA' to 'RRI'". Life Sciences, Society and Policy. 10: 11. doi:10.1186/s40504-014-0011-x. PMC 4648839. PMID 26085447.
  4. ^ a b Peckham, James (2018-08-27). "What is responsible innovation, and why should tech giants take it seriously?". TechRadar. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  5. ^ Owen, Richard; Macnaghten, Phil; Stilgoe, Jack (2012). "Responsible research and innovation: from science in society to science for society, with society". Science and Public Policy. 39 (6): 751–760. doi:10.1093/scipol/scs093.
  6. ^ Felt, Ulrike (2018). "Responsible Research and Innovation". Routledge Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society (2nd ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9781315451671.
  7. ^ Murget, Mirjam; Bardone, Emanuele; Pedaste, Margus (2017). "Definitions and Conceptual Dimensions of Responsible Research and Innovation: A Literature Review". Science and Engineering Ethics. 23 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1007/s11948-016-9782-1. PMID 27090147.
  8. ^ Smallman, Melanie (2018). "Citizen science and Responsible Research and Innovation". Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy. UCL Press. pp. 241–253. ISBN 9781787352353. JSTOR j.ctv550cf2.24.
  9. ^ Stahl, Bernd Carsten (2013-12-01). "Responsible research and innovation: The role of privacy in an emerging framework". Science and Public Policy. 40 (6): 708–716. doi:10.1093/scipol/sct067.
  10. ^ Molenaar, Henk (2017). "A Plurality of Voices". A Plurality of Voices: The Dutch National Research Agenda in Dispute. The Dutch National Research Agenda in Perspective: A Reflection on Research and Science Policy in Practice. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 31–46. ISBN 9789462982796. JSTOR j.ctt1n7qk7m.6.
  11. ^ Rip, Arie (2016-12-14). "The many lives of Responsible Research and Innovation". EuroScience. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  12. ^ a b Pain, Elisabeth (2017-01-17). "To be a responsible researcher, reach out and listen". Science. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  13. ^ Davis, Michael; Laas, Kelly (2014). ""Broader Impacts" or "Responsible Research and Innovation"? A Comparison of Two Criteria for Funding Research in Science and Engineering". Science and Engineering Ethics. 20 (4): 963–983. doi:10.1007/s11948-013-9480-1. PMID 24155159.
  14. ^ "Responsible Research and Innovation in Networked Quantum IT". University of Oxford, Department of Computer Science. Retrieved 2018-11-16.

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