Is RRI a buzzword? A discussion in Research Europe

RRI’s role in FP9: central formative thought or buzzword? A discussion in Research Europe

On 3 August 2017, Peter Tindemans, EuroScience Secretary General wrote the article Framework 9 will not be built on boasting and buzzwords published in Research Europe. “Instead of believing its own hype, the European Commission should ask what EU R&D programmes are for”, says Tindemans. Commenting on the Lamy report (LAB – FAB – APP which will help preparing next European research and innovation programme). Reflecting on RRI Tindemans mentions that RRI, as a concept, is not even mentioned in the Lamy Report. It might hence end up as a buzzword. He suggests that instead of such buzzwords R&I policy should follow an excellence focused path exemplified by the ERC.

Robert Braun from the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) replied on 11 January 2018: Excellent research is focused on citizens, not citations. In his article, Braun emphasises that although RRI is not directly mentioned in the Lamy Report its ambition to better embed research and innovation in society runs through the whole document. He emphasises the importance of openness, collaboration and engagement with society not only for applied research but also in the field of excellent basic research: “Research is excellent if its agendas and methods are made in collaboration with society”. This features the NewHoRRIzon projects core conviction that excellent research and societal benefit can very nicely go hand in hand.

On 8 February, Peter Tindemans published a response Excellence, citizen science and all that: let’s be precise. While agreeing on the need for Responsible Research and Innovation, Tindemans asks for some more details of what it means in practice. He would not like RRI to become a “tick-box exercise” and describes some difficulties with collaborative agenda settings. Issues that NewHoRRIzon aims to address in its four-year mission.

We welcome this conversation and hope the dialogue continues. Have a look at the articles and consider adding your voice to the discussion!