Collaboration, Fragmentation, Engagement, Responsible Research and Innovation


Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has recently gained recognition as a guiding principle for research to be more inclusive of societal needs. In response, the University of Malta led an internal qualitative study to assess attitudes and perceptions towards RRI. This approach paved the way for cultural and institutional changes that may not have developed otherwise. Academics, non-academic staff and students were interviewed alongside an online questionnaire totaling 29 face-to-face interviews and 226 survey responses. Thematic coding analysis revealed the core theme of fragmentation. Sub-themes stemming from fragmentation include challenges around collaboration, communication, politics, knowledge systems thinking and varied ideas of responsibility in research. While most respondents are in favor of RRI practice, several barriers affect an individual’s capacity to practice this approach, including lack of time and resources, and lack of recognition of public engagement (PE) efforts in the university’s current policies and governance structure. This research allowed for the development of a targeted Action Plan and set of initiatives to successfully begin implementing a culture of RRI best practice, including the establishment of the Committee for Engaged Research and fostering an internal network of individuals who are exemplary in RRI best practice. The thorough and targeted process has produced more significant and tangible results than moving directly into implementation, while also reducing the risk of future problems emerging from rushed initiatives. The authors conclude that such an approach is imperative for successful RRI implementation within institutions, especially when considering cultural/local context.   


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