How can engagement be successful and ethical? Which ethical values and principles are most important?

PRO-Ethics has developed a first draft framework for ethical participation in research and innovation. After a succesful training session in June, PRO-Ethics' research funding organisations will now test the framework in real-life pilots.

Involving citizens and stakeholders in research and innovation projects is both highly important and challenging. Researchers, developers, and even research funding organisations (RFOs) are not always sure how to identify and resolve ethical issues that may arise when community representatives are involved in research or innovation projects. One of PRO-Ethics' main tasks is to bridge this gap. By developing a framework for ethical participation, the project will provide guidance to RFOs and others on how to address or even avoid ethical issues during participation. A draft ethical framework has already been developed by the PRO-Ethics consortium. Now this draft needs to be refined and implemented in upcoming participatory project pilots (Pilots II).

To this end, EUREC and ZSI organized a training session in June 2021 for the eight RFOs participating in the project. The goal of the training was to familiarize the RFOs with the draft ethical framework and to show them ways to use the framework for their Pilots II.

The training was divided into two parts:

The main objective of the first training day, organized and conducted by EUREC, was to raise awareness of ethical issues, enable RFOs to find ethical issues and show them ways to deal with them. As a theoretical basis, EUREC presented basic ethical principles and values in research ethics and research integrity and showed what ethical issues can arise in participatory processes. Using a case study, the RFOs then elaborated on what ethical issues can arise in participatory processes and what measures can be taken to address these issues. The first day of training gave the RFOs a good insight into the ethical basics.

The second part of the RFO training, organized and chaired by ZSI, focused on engagement methods. In this full-day virtual activity, ZSI presented the key aspects of how to implement engagement processes. To bring more clarity to the diverse field of participation, a closer look at some definitions was taken, also the different levels of participation and the related promises to participants were discussed. Participation goals should always match the promises made, so clarity and transparency are key requirements for any participation process. In interactive exercises, the RFOs discussed do's and don'ts of successful participation processes, settings and conditions. They reflected on prerequisites to consider when conducting an activity, "harvesting" and validating the results. An ABC competition of lessons learned shows the most important aspects collected during the training.

Training Day 2: List of winning team:

By Lisa Tambornino (EUREC) and Ilse Marschalek (ZSI).
Illustration photo: Shutterstock.

Published 21.07.21