“Open Science for an Open Society!”
FP9 Position Paper by the European Science Engagement Association, EUSEA

EUSEA hereby presents its recommendations for the next framework programme for research and innovation (FP9). We specifically target the principles of Open Science and Responsible Research and Innovation, RRI. EUSEA is an international non-profit organisation gathering about 100 member organisations from around and beyond Europe.

In an open and democratic Europe, all societal actors should collaborate to ensure true and sustainable impact of publicly funded research and innovation. It is also important to support reason-based policy making and to develop measures to help citizens become science literate and able to detect and combat knowledge resistance, prejudices, fake news and “alternative” facts.

A resilient society needs solutions based on inclusiveness and engagement from citizens and stakeholders. The European concept Responsible Research and Innovation, RRI, where all relevant actors are involved in the processes of science and innovation, is key to achieve this. Participatory and co-creative science methods as well as citizen science are promising means of accomplishing a more open and resilient science society.

An innovative and inclusive EU also needs well-educated and interested citizens as well as researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators. Young people must find a career in research and innovation attractive. FP9 should therefore promote the development of initiatives within science education, informal learning and public engagement. University students and researchers need to be trained to engage and communicate with society, not only within STEM; new researchers and innovators are needed within all fields.

The current Science with and for Society (SwafS) programme in Horizon 2020 supports all of the above-mentioned objectives. It also supports and contributes to reaching several of the UN sustainable development goals:

  • Goal 4 Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  • Goal 5 Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and communities: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

It is therefore of uttermost importance to include a specific work programme addressing science & society relationships also in the next framework programme.

EUSEA strongly supports the conclusions and recommendations in the LAB-FAB-APP report from the High Level Expert Group on maximising the impact of EU research and innovation investments, chaired by Pascal Lamy[1]. We especially endorse recommendation no 5: to mobilise and involve citizens, stimulating co-design and co-creation through citizen involvement.

In the new framework programme, involvement and mobilisation of all societal sectors must be ensured, in order to obtain research results and innovations which are coherent, sustainable, transparent and relevant for society. FP9 should therefore be open to the involvement of societal actors, including citizens, and to actors from outside the EU. Furthermore we recommend that the principles of Open Science permeate the next framework programme.

Closely related to Open Science is Responsible Research and Innovation, a concept for realising the transitions towards Open Science. As a cross-cutting issue in H2020, RRI has gained importance, but more knowledge about RRI and how to implement the concept is needed. EUSEA therefore recommends RRI mainstreaming in FP9, in its call texts and evaluation criteria. Active involvement of societal actors in co-creating research and innovation will help tackling societal challenges, fostering research excellence, promoting impact in society, and facilitating public understanding and trust in science.

Open access is key in a democratic and inclusive society. Moreover, an Open Science system, a joint objective adopted by the EU member states[2], increases opportunities for finding common solutions to societal challenges through democratic interaction between science and the surrounding society. The transition to an openly available publishing system must therefore continue. Today openness is constrained by the evaluation measures used to assess the outputs of research, which rely on the number and impact of articles accepted by scientific publications. FP9 should therefore acknowledge and award Open Science activities.

EUSEA recommends a revision of what is required and evaluated under the impact section of submitted EU project proposals, in order to give more weight to involvement of stakeholders outside academia. The European Commission should organise trainings for EC officials drafting call texts and instructing evaluators, as well as for applicants and evaluators. The evaluators of project proposals in FP9 must also be instructed and trained to evaluate against criteria related to RRI and Open Science.

The European Commission and individual project consortia have a joint responsibility to communicate the results and the societal impacts of EU-funded research and innovation to a wide audience. A part of FP9 should therefore offer opportunities for funding research in, and evaluation of, science communication. The EC units preparing and monitoring the calls and funded projects should also encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing, networking and collaborations between funded projects.

Attitude surveys can help to set priorities. A special Eurobarometer on Responsible Research and Innovation was published in 2013 and the findings have informed the design of RRI initiatives within Horizon 2020. EUSEA therefore suggests that a Eurobarometer on Open Science should be launched ahead of FP9, in order to measure the impact of EU funded research and innovation and citizens’ attitudes towards science. National surveys on public trust in science are already run in several European countries, for instance Switzerland, Germany and Sweden,[3] but an overall European survey is needed. The results would help identifying measures and actions needed to regain citizens’ trust in science in an age of distrust.

About EUSEA
EUSEA is a non-profit association, an international knowledge-sharing platform and an accelerator of innovation in the fields of public engagement. Across Europe, our about 100 members are organising Science Festivals, Researchers’ Nights, Science Parliaments, Maker Faires and much more. The association addresses experts involved in the design, organisation and implementation of public engagement activities. EUSEA is also an active consortium member in projects funded by the European Commission.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/pdf/archive/other_reports_studies_and_documents/hlg_2017_report.pdf

[2] Competitiveness council 9526/16

[3] https://www.euroscientist.com/trusting-science-age-distrust/