Responsible Research Innovation (RRI)

Regulatory Issues

Scientific research and technological development processes considering effects and potential impacts on the environment and society

Patient and Public involvement (PPI)

PPI enables people affected by a health condition as ‘experts by experience’ to work with academics and clinicians

Open Science

Supports NEURON’s mission to increase openness, integrity and reproducibility of research

The concept of RRI emerged in the European Union’s Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development and has been defined as follows:

  • “RRI is a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view to the (ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability of the innovation process and its marketable products (in order to allow a proper embedding of scientific and technological advances in our society)” (Von Schomberg, 2013).
  • In EU Programme for Research and Innovation 2014-2020, Horizon 2020, RRI is described as an approach that anticipates and assesses potential implications and societal expectations with regard to research and innovation (R&I), with the aim to foster the design of inclusive and sustainable research and innovation.
  • The ‘Monitoring the evolution and benefits of Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe’ report is available here: 

It 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. It could be understood as a broad umbrella connecting different aspects of the relationship between R&I and society: public engagement, open science, diversity, science education, ethics, and governance.

This RRI Movie by RRI Tools describes the idea well also includes a broad RRI-toolbox. Another excellent and clear explanation and descriptions of all the aspects of RRI are collected at ERA-LEARN website.

How can you include RRI in your project proposal?

RRI should be integrated as part of the project involving all project participants. In spite of the fact that RRI may focus on broadly recognised issues the approach has to be specific to the project.

To achieve this objective, it´s important to develop a shared understanding of the project’s RRI aspects as early as possible. This will involve having conversations about their importance, action that is agreed upon, and what learning and adoption can occur throughout the project. 

RRI in the project needs to be coordinated, however, how this RRI content is adopted (e.g. who will be responsible for what work) in the proposal depends on the project:  RRI can be organised a cross-cutting part of the project or a separate work package.

Please be aware that these guidelines and reflections neither represent the only RRI approach nor a complete list of examples of measures when implementing RRI in NEURON proposals. 

As stated in the NEURON ERA-NET call texts expert lay reviewers will review the patient relevant aspects of the full-proposals and an Ethics board will give recommendations on the ethical aspects of the full-proposals.

Examples of different RRI perspectives applicable for NEURON research projects and available tools

Diversity dimension 

Diversityis a key component of excellence in order to ensure that talented scientists are not excluded from opportunities in sciences because of factors and personal choices like sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion or culture.

In particular, gender equality could be defined situation where individuals are free to develop their abilities and make choices without the limitations imposed by gender role.

Gender-sensitive research takes a twin approach:

  • Providing equal opportunities for all, because to keep up the excellence within a workforce, we need the skills of both men and women.
  • Integrating gender into the research content, from the initial research idea to the dissemination of results. In spite of the fact that these variables are not always systematically considered, quality and scalability of biomedical research depends on considerations of key biological variables such as sex, especially in preclinical research. In addition, gender has been shown to critically affect behaviours, such as consumption habits and adoption or rejection.

Therefore, consideration of gender is a priority in the European Research Area and entails fostering balance in research teams and integrating the gender dimension in R&I content. In fact, in 2022, the gender equality plans will be mandatory for public bodies, research organisations and higher education establishments, from EU Member States and Associated Countries and will be considered as an eligibility criterion for proposals of those entities. Some tools that can be used to ensure diversity and gender balance in R&I teams, embed gender equality in research proposals and integrate the gender dimension in R&I content are:

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ALBA Network

ALBA Network, which promotes equity and diversity in the brain science and gather useful recommendations and resources (websites, videos, articles…) linked to diversity issues and in support of underrepresented groups in brain sciences.

Logo and Teaser genSET

genSET consensus report

The genSET consensus report, which offers good practices for action on the gender dimension in science.

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Horizon 2020

The Vademecum on Gender Equality in Horizon 2020 whose purpose is to provide practical guidance on the effective application of the new gender equality provisions in Horizon 2020. This means integrating gender equality issues at each stage of the R&I cycle: from submission of proposals to programming through implementation, monitoring and programme evaluation.

Logo Yellow Window Gender in EU-funded research

Yellow Window – Gender Research Toolkit

The Yellow Window’s Gender in Research Toolkit provides practical guidance on how to increase female participation and discusses how addressing the gender dimension means considering gender as a key analytical and explanatory variable in research.


Gender Equality in Academia and Research

The Gender Equality in Academia and Research – GEAR tool, which provides universities and research organisations with an step-by-step guide on the process to set up, implement, monitor and evaluate gender equality plans. The Human Brain Project (HBP) the largest brain science project in Europe, summarises its activities on gender quality in this Gender Action Plan.


In order to ensure that you have the structures within your organisation to make R&I processes responsive to society and responsible in practice and to align the procedures according to RRI principles it´s important to establish governance structures that value and enable the principles of RRI. In other words, to make RRI in a well-assessed and structured way. Some key issues to create structures for implementing RRI are the following:

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The EU-funded MULTI-ACT project aims to increase the impact of health research on people with brain diseases. It will create and implement a new model allowing for the effective cooperation of all relevant stakeholders.

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The Co-construction Method

The Co-construction Method for RRI and the Self-Reflection Tool of the RRI Toolkit.

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Engaging stakeholders in the governing board or the advisory council. Valuable insights can be found in AccountAbility.

Making the composition of governing structures a consciously diverse representation in terms of gender and ethnicity and setting up an ethics committee.

Reviewing the mission and vision statements of your organisation from an RRI perspective and developing appropriate structures for implementing RRI processes and instruments (e.g., codes of conduct, foresight processes, research agendas, etc.)