Questions and Answers

Do you have questions? Take a look at our Questions & Answers section. You can also contact us.

  • 1. What is RRI?

    Our society increasingly relies on research and innovation to address the challenges of our time -such as climate change, global health, sustainable development, scarcity of resources, or privacy and security issues-. However, science and technology can create new risks and ethical dilemmas we have not faced before: they sometimes lead to unexpected results, raise controversy, and reinforce inequality. To overcome these issues, the European Commission has pushed forward the concept of “Responsible Research and Innovation” (RRI), with the aim of fostering research and innovation in an inclusive, societally-oriented way. At RRI Tools, we view Responsible Research and Innovation as an umbrella-term that gathers all R&I actors (research and education communities, policy makers, business and industry, and civil society organisations) and covers three key dimensions:

    • Outcomes: research and innovation actors should work together towards ethically acceptable, socially desirable and environmentally sustainable products and services.
    • Processes: diversity and inclusion, anticipation and reflection, openness and transparency and responsiveness and adaptive change should be actively sought at all stages of the research and innovation cycle.
    • Key policy agendas: topics such as open access, gender equality in science, ethics, science education, governance, and public engagement need to be specifically addressed.

    It is still an emerging concept in Europe and in order to implement RRI, concrete tools are needed, and this is where this project steps in.

    Find out more about RRI on our dedicated page. Our working definition of RRI is described in more detail in the document Policy brief on the state of art on RRI. For further details on RRI and how to implement it in practice, please also refer to the RRI Tools final booklet 'A practical guide to Responsible Research and Innovation: key lessons from RRI Tools'.

  • 2. Where does RRI come from?

    Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) as a concept has emerged in the policy realm in the run up to the new EU Framework Programme ‘Horizon 2020'.

    The idea was initially developed by technology assessment scholars, policy makers and corporate business. They reflected on nanotechnology and participatory governance during the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes (FP6 and FP7), within the ‘Science in Society' activities of the European Commission. Recently, the term was selected by the European Parliament and the European Commission as a cross-cutting issue in the Horizon 2020 programme.

  • 3. What is so new about RRI?

    How we can develop better research and innovation processes is not a new question. In fact, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) can be seen as an umbrella term, covering theories on good governance and public engagement, techniques such as public consultations, as well as codes of conduct and mechanisms like open access. But what is new about RRI is the shift from seeing responsibility for the direction and outcomes of research as falling upon the individuals involved, to something that is shared between us all: research community members, business actors, education community members, policy makers and civil society organisations.

    But how can we all play our parts? This is where the RRI Tools project can help.

  • 4. What is the RRI Tools project about?

    RRI Tools is a three-year project (2014-2016) funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Program (FP7).

    • It started with 30 consultation workshops that gathered 400+ research and innovation actors in 24 European countries in 2014.
    • The project has then gathered a wealth of online resources– the RRI Toolkit – to help stakeholders across Europe put Responsible Research and Innovation into practice. Being a participatory Toolkit, it is now open to the community, so every actor can showcase their own practices and resources, and get inspired by those of others.
    • In 2016 50+ training workshops are being organized throughout Europe and RRI Tools will be present at numerous events and conferences. Check the details of the training programme here.

    Download the RRI Tools project information sheet or leaflet. To know more about the status of the project, please read the project briefing sheet.

  • 5. Who is in charge of the RRI Tools project?

    RRI Tools involves a Consortium of 26 European organizations and relies on a network of 19 national "Hubs" to disseminate the Toolkit locally in a more efficient way. "la Caixa" Foundation (Spain) is in charge of the coordination.

    In order to complete and distribute the Toolkit, the RRI Tools project has been structured into 7 work packages, whose main goals are:

    1. Getting an RRI working definition, setting RRI quality criteria and gathering good RRI practices
    2. Mapping stakeholders' needs and constraints
    3. Producing the RRI Toolkit
    4. Training and advocating on the RRI Toolkit
    5. Assessing the outcomes of the project and RRI aspects
    6. Communicating and disseminating at every step of the project, engaging a permanent dialogue with the stakeholders
    7. Coordinating the whole project
  • 6. Could you give me some examples of RRI tools?

    At the end of 2016, the RRI Toolkit contained 500+ resources. These include:

    1. Tools: manuals, guidelines, catalogues and online databases of resources. For example, the Action Catalogue is a catalogue of tools to support researchers, policy-makers and others in finding the best methods for conducting inclusive research. Searching a database of 57 different methods, this tool provides a clear overview of the methods relevant for your project’s needs.
    2. Inspiring practices: RRI success stories across Europe for all to inspire from. For example, the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), one of the largest research funders in the UK, has adopted a Framework for Responsible Innovation that involves the “AREA process” -Anticipate, Reflect, Engage and Act- to help researchers consider societal issues that may be involved with, or flow from, their work. As a result, researchers funded by the EPSRC are expected to ensure that the work they carry out is socially responsive and responsible.
    3. Other European projects that developed RRI resources. For example, the GenPORT project is developing an online community of practitioners, served by an internet portal and made up of organizations and individuals working across the globe for gender equality and excellence in science, technology and innovation. The portal allows to access the highest quality resources on gender and science issues, organized thematically, linguistically, or geographically, and linked to related items.
    4. Library: articles, reports, cross-analyses and much more. For example, Winning Horizon2020 with Open Science? shows why and how Open Science can optimize a Horizon 2020 proposal evaluation. It can help in formulating the societal impact section that answers the overarching political agendas and initiatives, and it provides tips for effectively communicating research results to both users and the market.

    In addition to these resources identified by RRI Tools and developed by other actors, the project has created a Self-Reflection Tool to evaluate your own practices and determine how RRI they are. In addition, on each stakeholder or policy agenda landing page (“Landing on RRI” in the menu), you will find series of how-tos to guide you through the implementation of RRI in different contexts.

    The RRI Toolkit is now open to the community, so the list of resources will grow thanks to contributors. You are also welcome to upload your own resources to the Toolkit.

  • 7. How can I use the RRI Toolkit?

    Our resources will help you design and bring projects to live, standing on the shoulders of previous initiatives. There are different access points to the RRI Toolkit:

    1. Use the search engine and find the resources that you need by typing relevant keywords.
    2. Browse through our stakeholder-dedicated pages for the research community, policy makers, business and industry, educators, and civil society organizations to get suggestions of tools tailored to your needs.
    3. Are you interested in a specific topic of Responsible Research and Innovation? Have a look at our pages on the six key policy agendas: ethics, gender equality, governance, open access, public engagement or science education.
    4. The stakeholder and policy agenda pages contain how-tos to help you implement RRI in a practical way. How to set up collaboratively a research agenda? How to integrate ethics into all phases of the research and innovation process? How to do a business plan embedding the RRI principles? You will find answers to these questions and much more, with examples and links to relevant tools.
    5. Our Self-Reflection Tool is here to help you reflect on your professional practice and find resources that fit your needs.
  • 8. I am interested in Responsible Research and Innovation. How can I (or my organization) join the RRI community?

    Since the Toolkit is participatory, it is open to the community, so every actor can showcase their own practices and resources, and get inspired by those of others. Moreover, our ultimate goal is to build a Community of Practice in Europe, which will assure the use, evolution and enrichment of the RRI Toolkit and thus boost responsible research and innovation. Whether you are a scientist, a citizen, an educator, a policy maker or an industrialist, you can definitely play your part. All contributions from any stakeholder are essential to the project.

    There are several ways you can interact with the Toolkit and become part of the Community:

    1. Join the conversation
      Participate in the discussion forum, exchange experiences with other practitioners, build up knowledge and capability and find partners for your projects.
    2. Train on RRI
      Register to a training session or use our training modules to design your own training.
    3. Upload your own resources
      Users are invited to contribute actively to the Toolkit by uploading resources developed or not by their own organization. From the start, RRI Tools project is yours.

    Sign up today to the RRI Toolkit and enter the Community!

  • 9. I would like to upload a new resource to the Toolkit. What are the conditions?

    Thank you for your kind commitment! Before publishing, please bear in mind the following aspects:

    1. Please check if the resource has not already been uploaded in the RRI Toolkit by another user.
    2. As a rule of thumb, check if it is useful according to this brief definition of RRI: “RRI is a dynamic, iterative process by which all stakeholders become mutually responsive and share responsibility regarding how research and innovation is done and which are its impacts in society”
    3. Please check that the resource is relevant in terms of RRI, using our briefing sheet. In particular, it should involve at least one of the items in each of these categories:
    4. Is this resource addressing a specific need? Will it be useful and relevant to the RRI Community? If you have any doubt, you can check with the RRI Tools Community of Practice in our discussion forum.

    Remember that any content you upload to RRI Tools will be subject to a revision process and that it will be released under a Creative Commons License (see terms and conditions). Should you have any question, please contact us.

  • 10. I would like to tell my colleagues and contacts about the RRI Toolkit. Are there any resources I could make use of?

    Should you like to spread the word on the RRI Toolkit to your colleagues or at events, dissemination materials (practical guide on RRI, leaflet, poster, project brief, etc.) are available for download on our Communication and Media page. Also do not hesitate to contact the communication team at communication@rri-tools.eu.

  • 11. How can I get in touch with the RRI Tools Project Team?

    For any questions or comments, please send us an email to: communication@rri-tools.eu.

    Enter the conversation on RRI Tools on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter. In addition, RRI Tools is present on YouTube, Flickr and SlideShare.

    You can also join the local RRI Hub of one of the 30 participating countries and get involved in our activities.

    We look forward to hearing from you. The RRI Tools community is on: it is the right time to join in!