Introduction to Responsible research and innovation (RRI) and related tools

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Science Shops

RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) has gained recognition in the last few years as a guiding principle and policy concept primarily formulated and promoted by the European Commission. It is now a cross-cutting theme in Horizon 2020, driven by a desire to bridge the gap between the scientific community and society at large and tackle the grand societal challenges.

According to the European Commission “Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) implies that societal actors (researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organisations, 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”.

RRI is an umbrella term that incorporates a number of key dimensions, such as gender, open access , science education, public engagement, governance and ethics, known as key dimensions.

During the FP7-project “RRI Tools“ (2014-2016) that developed a training and dissemination toolkit for fostering RRI, a number of process requirements for achieving RRI were elaborated. These include Diversity and Inclusion (such as involving a wider range of stakeholders for both democratic reasons and ensuring a diversification of perspectives and expertise); Openness and Transparency (important for establishing public trust allowing everyone’s views to be taken into consideration); Anticipation and Reflexivity (for understanding the potential impacts of research and uncertainties); and Responsiveness and Adaptive Change (taking society’s needs into account and responding to new insights).


… to understand what RRI is all about
The RRI Tools website is the main resource for RRI.

It contains an introduction to the concept of RRI including a short video on RRI in a nutshell, why RRI?, insights from experts and explains what you do when you do RRI.

The four page RRI Tools project briefing sheet  also outlines the different components of RRI and why RRI is important.
The two-page document Responsible Research and Innovation: Europe´s ability to respond to societal challenges  provides a brief introduction to the European Commission’s RRI agenda and framework, including the six RRI dimensions (Public Engagement, Gender Equality, Science Education, Ethics, Open access/open science, Governance).
Two RRI training modules on Explaining the RRI concept and Why is RRI important? with guidance on how to use them.
Ecsite’s Responsible Research and Innovation: A quick start guide for science engagement organisations is a useful guide to RRI, why, what and how, including inspiring examples of RRI.
How the science shop model contributes to RRI is an article by Norbert Steinhaus (2014) describing this.