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How do you trigger institutional, cultural and behavioural changes in research organizations to foster open science and RRI? The ORION project is exploring these questions. In an interview made by the TEAM ZBW Mediatalk, Dr. Michela Bertero and Dr. Luiza Bengtsson give some details on the project goals, actions and learnings on fostering Open Science and responsible research and innovation (RRI).

The goal of ORION is to promote open science, in all its facets and flavors, as a means of increasing collaboration, engagement and transparency in the scientific practices. Our ultimate vision is to bring more science into society and more society into science. We are focusing on life sciences research performing and research funding institutions, which is an ambitious target and an experiment not yet done on such scale. The research we do is highly specialized, focusing on very fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying life and using very complex technologies. It is often difficult for the lay public or other stakeholders, who are not expert in life sciences, to understand what we research on and what its relevance is, since often this research does not lead to short-term impact in our lives.

The ORION project aims to identify what parts of our research processes we could open up and then to engage different actors, educate them in different concepts, ask them for their inputs and opinions, and sometimes even involve them directly in experiments. Fundamental research does have a tremendous long-term impact in our society, and that is why ORION takes up the challenge to engage researchers in a mutual and fruitful dialogue with citizens. 

What actions do you take to embed open science and RRI in research policies, practices and processes?

The first step was to identify how much awareness for open science exists in the participating institutions and also how much and what involvement with research the citizens actually want. The results will guide several co-creation experiments in different institutes and countries. We will run public dialogues on disruptive technologies, such as genome editing to understand citizens´ views and reflect on how researchers and policy makers could incorporate them in their work. Funders will promote participatory processes when deciding or evaluating funding calls for projects tackling societal challenges. We have also started interesting citizen science projects, engaging citizens in the scientific experiments so they can also contribute with their ideas and skills for the advancement of knowledge. All of the mentioned exercises are not possible if the researchers and support staff are not on board. Therefore, one of the central activities of the ORION project is also training on tools and concepts of open science for scientists. 

What are some lessons learned during the project so far?

The research community is yearning for open science. The interest in our training and the newly launched podcast shows that particularly early-career researchers have the interest and the will to engage with open science practices. However, this is currently not incentivized as a career progression mechanism. Unfortunately, we cannot change that in the course of the ORION project. What we can do is to prepare and engage the individual researchers for the time when it will not be necessary to talk about open science, as it will become equivalent to good quality science. 

We are also observing that the citizens are keen on being involved in research. Our Europe-wide survey clearly shows that the public is willing to get personally involved in life sciences research, if this means contributing to greater knowledge for all.

Read the full story!

Read the full interview with Dr Michela Bertero and Dr Luiza Bengtsson on the TEAM ZBW Mediatalk websiteThe ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics is the world’s largest research infrastructure for economic literature, online as well as offline.