We are focusing on how to make research and innovation relevant to society, sustainable and fair for everyone.
Responsible research and Innovation (RRI) brings together five themes societal engagement, gender equality, scientific education, open access and ethics, which underpin how these activities can be carried out in a beneficial way. Each of these themes is established in UK universities. Explanations of societal engagement is now part of funding proposals, the reporting of studies and is recognised as achievements in the Research Excellence Framework. Gender equality is supported by Athena SWAN (the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) were set up in the early 2000s, evolving into the Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science in 2008). Programmes of improvements and achievements for women in science are submitted and Athena SWAN grants Bronze, Silver or Gold awards. The other three include open access which is now explicit and is also integral to the next Research Excellence Framework. Ethical research has a long established tradition in the UK and scientific education has always had a strong presence at the University of Oxford.
We are looking at how these five themes integrate in two domains. The first is in translational medicine, ie how medical research can be turned into practice, with the accompanying generation of new biotech businesses. The second is through applied research comparisons within the European Union via the STARBIOS2 consortium, with our ultimate aim of writing guidelines for RRI that can be used by most biosciences institutions.
Our work is centred on the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre which is providing a framework for several quantitative and qualitative projects, supplemented with systematic reviews and practical applications.