What We Talk About When We Talk About resources for RRI?

Reflecting on the sustainability of RRI within a research organization involves, among other things, thinking about resources. Based on the ResBios experience and similar projects, the issue of resources can be tackled in two different ways.

The most immediate — and perhaps naïve — way is identifying the resource problem with that of finding funds. Although important, funds are just one aspect of the issue. Indeed, what is also important, is not so much the sporadic access to funding as the activation of an organizational and institutional process that makes access to funds a stable element of RRI sustainability strategies in one’s research institution. Only in this case do the availability of funds for the practice of responsibility become a significant indicator, as they gauge an acquired capacity of the organization to put in place effective procedures to identify them and make them stably available.

Based on these assumptions, various objectives to be pursued to ensure sustainable access to resources for RRI could be identified. Five of them seem to be particularly relevant.

1. Cultural legitimacy. The recognition of RRI as an important aspect of scientific practice and the life of research organizations is an important step also in terms of access to resources. If such recognition is achieved, devoting resources to RRI becomes something desirable and reasonable.

2. Diversification of resources. As said above, the resources needed for RRI implementation are not only of a financial nature. For example, more than the availability of funds, infrastructure (e.g., classrooms, computer networks, etc.) or people willing to volunteer to promote RRI are often needed. Resources of one kind alone are insufficient for implementing activities to promote RRI and the objective should be to access resources of a diverse nature.

3. Regulatory recognition. The recognition of RRI practices in the rules and regulations of the organization could turn out to be pivotal to accessing resources. Consequently, an important objective is to make it permissible for resources of various kinds within an organization to be devolved to RRI.

4. Management and extension of networks. The resources (of various kinds) needed to practice RRI may become available thanks to various actors, both inside and outside research organizations, that are sensitive to the issue of responsibility and, therefore, willing to contribute (e.g., by providing their time, facilities at their disposal, and so on). It is important, therefore, to foster social relations focused on promoting RRI also through the provision of diverse resources.

5. Organizational support. For resources to become effectively available, they must be identified, solicited, and requested. Acquiring resources is a process composed of several steps, and — consequently — a relevant objective is that of establishing a group of people to oversee it on an ordinary) base.

If fundraising is a process, it takes place, by definition, over time. Resources that are not available today could be so tomorrow. The above-listed five objectives could be helpful to make this process starts. This could require, among other things, mobilizing the different actors who have a say on resources and negotiating with them. Furthermore, things evolve. Therefore, the streams of resources that now are not available could be tapped in the future. Hence the importance for those who are responsible for the resources in support of RRI-oriented actions to be alert to the various opportunities arising in the context where they operate. In general, all this means that, even if the available resources of today do not meet the expectations, they could expand in the future thanks to the growing capacity of those responsible to raise them.

Andrea Declich, Luciano d’Andrea and Maresa Berliri (Knowledge and Innovation Srls — K&I)

Image: “Doric order, A Study of perspective. Athens” by Dimitry B is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Mutual learning for responsible biosciences

This is the blog of the ResBios project (https://www.resbios.eu). It aims to bring RRI institutional changes into some biosciences research organizations.