February 22, 2019

Social Lab 3: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

What is a Social Lab?


Horizon 2020 pillar: Excellent Science

Social Lab 3 on the “Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions” brings together stakeholders from research – including current and former MSCA fellows, representatives from the Marie Curie Alumni Association, National Contact Points, principal investigators, project coordinators, evaluators, and RRI related experts – to develop pilot activities which might help to implement elements of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the practices and policies related to MSCA.

Social Lab Workshops

Workshop 1

Date: 8-9 June 2018

Place: University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

21 participants:

  • 6 MSCA fellows;
  • 5 MSCA project coordinators/supervisors;
  • 4 MSCA alumni;
  • 5 funding brokers (National Contact Points; private consultant; home organization);
  • 2 RRI related experts

Presentation of the workshop

Workshop 2

Date: 10 & 11 May 2019

Venue: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Presentation of the workshop

Workshop 3

Date: Q4 2019/ Q1 2020

Pilot actions

Pilot Action 1: Research Kiosk: co-designing ways to interact between citizens and scientists

This Pilot Action seeks to design a format for direct interaction between scientists and citizens.

Its design has changed profoundly in the period between WS1 and WS2, as a result of Pilot Action protagonists (still the same group of people, working closely on the issue) developed their ideas over the months. After analysing the results from the questionnaires to citizens interested in science-society communication (held during European Researchers’ Nights) the conclusion was that citizens are mostly interested in face-to-face communications. This led to the design of a series of co-creation workshops which are held (1) / planned to be held (2) in 3 countries in total (Italy, Portugal and Spain), to enable the co-creation of tools for communication between citizens and scientists. The Pilot Action then will move on to develop selected tools as prototypes to enable citizens to engage with researchers, but the staging of the co-creation workshops are also an expression of the envisaged public engagement.

The objectives – enhancing the interaction between non-science-affiliated citizens and scientists in a practical manner – and the underlying problem definition (‘even if scientists wish to engage with citizens, it is difficult to organise in practice’) remain unchanged.

Protagonists: Alessia Dino, University of Turin (UNITO) Italy; Anna Olsson, Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3S), Portugal; Cristina Luis, CIUHCT-FCUL; MUHNAC-ULisboa; CIES-ISCTE-IUL, Portugal; Jonas Krebs, Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Spain,Rui Guimarães, University of Porto (FEUP), Portugal

Pilot Action 2: RRI Career Assessment Matrix (CAM): valuing RRI-related science

Inspired by efforts such as the Open Science Career Assessment Matrix (OS-CAM), the RRI-CAM Pilot Action aims to explore if OS-CAM can be adapted to incorporate responsible research and innovation (RRI) in researchers’ professional performance. The Pilot Action protagonists came to the conclusion, after exploring options to reformulate the advice to the EC on the possibility of Open Science- oriented career assessment in terms of RRI, that this did not offer the possibilities for an RRI-oriented matrix as originally envisaged. The question how then to reach the envisaged goal is a point of discussion in the group, which was carried further during the Workshop but remained largely unresolved. There is a design in the making by one member of the group, which entails a visual aid to convey an “individual research profile” for researchers to convey their capacities e.g. on their own webpage, which when imbued with sets of indicators could also serve as a framework for career assessment that acknowledges researchers’ efforts at community engagement and teaching next to research. Input for the practical design of such a framework was collected in a participatory workshop organised to co-produce research quality criteria during the MCAA General Assembly in February 2019.

Protagonists: Fernanda Bajanca, Chair MCAA Policy Working Group and Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, France. Mimi E. Lam, Marie Curie Fellow, University of Bergen, Norway. Alexandra Dubini, MSCA Evaluator, University of Cordoba, Spain. Mattias Björnmalm, Vice-chair MCAA Policy Working Group and Marie Curie Fellow, Imperial College London, UK. Peter Novitzky, Ethicist, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

Pilot Action 3: RRI Training: training different target groups on the relevance of elements of RRI for proposal writing

The original idea to develop an RRI training did not get shape after WS1, until a SL management team member developed one for the NCPs MSCA NCP Net4Mobility+- meeting in February 2019. From this also followed a report of recommendations for talking about RRI for the complete MSCA NCP network. During WS2 design criteria got further specified: the course on RRI should 1) go under a different name to engage with interests of specific target groups; 2) be differentiated per target group; 3) build on existing RRI training material. The group changed slightly in composition, and an interesting synergy with the RRI Manifesto developed, which led to a focus on developing a training for early career researchers (ECRs) on ‘transferable skills’ that is, on skills that researchers can use inside academia as well as outside, to enhance their career perspectives.

With the broadening of the ideas on course design, the Pilot Action’s objectives now range from raising awareness on RRI to developing transferable skills. This pilot actions wishes to make researcher aware of their role and moral duties in society, to responsibility of the funding scheme (MSCA) and academia as such towards the well-being of the researchers it supports and nurtures.

Plans in WS2 developed to disseminate the courses widely, in and beyond MSCA, via a ‘Training road show’, and to develop a Webinar for NCPs and MSCA ITN applicants in September (when the ITN call opens).

Pilot Action 4: RRI Manifesto: discussing the importance of RRI and Open Science in transferable skills for Early Career Researchers

The objective is to help integrate RRI into actual research practice by focussing on “human centred designs” of RRI: smart, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. Furthermore, in view of the issue of transferable skills, the problem identified is that a large number of universities do not provide researchers with opportunities to develop other skills than those involved in research, amounting to a skills gap that may prevent a career change to industry, or that a limited amount of students have access to it, making early career researchers victims of academia’s selection process. The question is who has responsibility on the issue, universities or ECRs?

The original plan to draw-up a Manifesto on RRI got elaborated into different shapes in the period between WS1 and WS2, including a short video clip with statements of early career researchers on the importance of RRI. During WS2 the design changed back, with the same group of protagonists, to a ‘written statement campaign’ with a graphical presentation to further RRI, which is to be accompanied by a Petition and/or App to create commitment. In addition, the scope broadened to translating the manifesto focus into a training for ECRs in view of their employability outside academia, implying a course on ‘transferable skills’.

The group is very active in strategically aligning efforts at furthering RRI, e.g. as they are professionally engaged with a webinar series that include RRI / Open Science and related topics.

Protagonists: Brian Cahill, Research Programme Manager COFUND project and former Chair MCAA, University of Edinburgh, UK. Asun López-Varela, Member of MCAA Working groups and MSCA Evaluator, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain. Ivo Grigorov, Research Coordination/Fundraising and FOSTER Open Science, DTU, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Managers and facilitators

Social Lab Manager: Anne Loeber, associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Social Lab RRI Researcher/Assistant: Joshua Cohen, PhD Candidate at the Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Social Lab Facilitator: Martien Kuitenbrouwer, Co-founder/director Public Mediation and PhD Candidate at the Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Interested in cooperation?
You can reach us through msca@newhorrizon.eu!