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In line without our overall mission as Europe’s Civic University Alliance, CIVIS believes in a new way of doing research: more connected, more welcoming and more engaged with social issues. To turn this vision into reality, Module 6 of the RIS4CIVIS project is developing strategies and activities which foster a fruitful relationship between academia and society.

Our objectives for embedding citizens and society in research

Our work is developing common concepts and language to express this vision, which can then inspire tools, practices and policies that can open research to citizens and society. Finally, outreach and training will bring this new model to the researchers themselves, empowering them to embed citizens and society into their own research work.

We will know we have succeeded when we can unlock increased quality and efficacy in these three aspects the new research paradigm:

  • Science Communication – including science dissemination.
  • Citizen Science – itself the topic of RIS4CIVIS Module 5.
  • Open Innovation (OI) – a commitment to social and challenge-driven innovation, helping us understand the impact of the first two aspects.

Our actions for embedding citizens and society in research

The M6 objectives are being put into practice through four practical case studies:

1. Data Base and Platform for Science Communication and Citizen Science Experts

This expert database gathers experts in Science Communication (SC) and Citizen Science (CS) from all CIVIS member universities, creating an impressive network of CS and SC knowledge. The main objective is to foster CS and SC across the CIVIS Alliance, opening a space for the CS and SD experts to share exchange good practices and identify common challenges. This network will hopefully lead to events, publications and research projects in the fields of SC and CS. Creating this network of experts will also allow further brainstorming on joint actions to be implemented at the CIVIS level.

2. Guidelines of Best Practices in Citizen Science and Science Communication

The creation of a useful toolkit to guide and support CS and SC initiatives is another fundamental aim of RIS4CIVIS Module 6. We are developing CS and SC guidelines to be published on the CIVIS Digital Campus, targeting the whole CIVIS community (academics, students and staff). These CS and SC guidelines aim to present best practices and methods to inspire anyone, inside and outside academia, who is interested in carrying out CS and SC actions.

3. Training programmes on Science Communication and Citizen Science

Our training programs on Science Dissemination and Communication help participants to increase their knowledge and acquire competencies. We thereby stimulate the emergence of high-quality SC and CS initiatives. In early 2022 RIS4CIVIS Modules 4, 5 and 6 came together to design and implement a CIVIS micro-programme on Science Communication. This first micro-programme was a success, and we followed up by launch of the second edition in the form of a CIVIS Blended Intensive Programme (BIP) for PhD students. Looking ahead, RIS4CIVIS Module 6 is also creating a catalogue of SD and CS training opportunities which will be available on the CIVIS Digital Campus.

4. Recognition of existing actions in Citizen Science and Science Communication

In order to motivate researchers to apply Citizen Science and Science Communication practices in their work, we should disseminate their results and improve the recognition of their initiative. Under this objective, Module 6 is testing two approaches:

4.1 Research Assessment Reform pilot case study  

The Research Assessment Reform is a collaborative action with RIS4CIVIS Module 5 (Open Science). This pilot is aligned with the current international discussions on research assessment reform. We aim to contribute to ongoing debates on this topic by proposing new criteria that pay full attention to Open Science practices and results. In Module 6 we are responsible for testing and evaluating the criteria related to Citizen Science and Science Communication.

4.2 Citizen Science and Science Communication Award

The purpose of the CS and SC awards is to recognize and motivate researchers by promoting and disseminating their actions for societal engagement in science. The guidelines and norms for the Award are being developed in collaboration with RIS4CIVIS Module 5.