FIT4RRI is conducting four co-creation experiments to observe RRI and Open Science in action. Our experiments are an exercise of engaging the quadruple helix actors (university, industry, policy makers, society) into the design and implementation of research projects.
Our intention is to understand how institutions need to change their organisational frameworks to allow better embedment of RRI and provide value to the involved actors.
Each experiment focuses on a different topic, e.g. material science, text and data mining, energy or photometry.
The main aim of the experiment is to embed RRI principles into current ethics and science education practices, based around a case study on a monitoring system for health and social care applications.
This is being accomplished through working collaboratively with stakeholders to initiate change in policies and the way ethics and science education are viewed and practiced – in institutions, by practitioners, end users and society.
The University of Liverpool case study is an optical monitoring healthcare system that will be placed in the living space of vulnerable people in residential care homes to monitor patterns in behaviour through movement.
The main aim of the monitoring system is to help people to stay safe in their living environments and help care workers to deliver quality care through the prevention of falls and ensure that people are active. The system monitors patterns associated in the long-term deterioration in health.
Background & Interactions
For this experiment the project group worked with internal (i.e. Ph.D. researchers, Director of Ethics) and external (i.e. Liverpool clinical commission group, enterprise manufacturers – provider of health care solutions) stakeholders. A questionnaire has been developed to discover a benchmark for the perceptions and understanding of ethics and science education. Using the FOSTER website a focus group has been put together aimed at discussing the initial findings from the questionnaire. Using the information gathered from the questionnaire and focus group the team conducted semi-structured short interviews with each stakeholder either in person or on the phone. On 15th July 2019, a workshop for stakeholders will take place to learn more about RRI in particular ethics and science education.
In an initial questionaire the stakeholders were asked to answer a selection of questions such as:
- Ethical and science educational awareness.
- The level of implementation of ethics and science education in their current role.
- Motivation to implement ethics and science education.
- The importance of ethics and science education.
The results for this questionnaire show, that stakeholders perceive ethics to be a long process, that is often only used in the university. However, they see it as needed to protect individuals and society. Furthermore, they perceived science education as confusing and only aimed at other researchers. However, they did highlight that science education is important for society.
After this, a focus group has been asked to discuss 3 questions about
- Barriers against the diffusion of ethics and science education
- Their views on policies and guidelines and
- How to involve society in research.
The main points taken from this discussion were:
Regarding barriers against the diffusion of ethics and science education there is firstly a lack of awareness, public trust and acceptance. Secondly, there is no understanding why ethics and science education is needed. Thirdly, the stakeholders identifies a lack of time and money.
As for the policies and guidelines the group saw the need for a clear encouragement towards the display of the motivation for research in the policies. Nevertheless, policies and guidelines should be easy to understand and meet trust expectations.
The answers to the third question about how to involve society in research were that researchers have to go out into the community, publish in open access journals and re-visit participants during and after the research.
The project team hopes that the results of the interviews, focus group and workshop will be taken into account when reviewing the ethics and science communication policy of the University of Liverpool. At the university we have both internal and external policies for ethics and public engagement. For this project we consulted all necessary policies. Both policies are available for the public to access.
By Mary Jane Monaghan, University of Liverpool