The French National Research Agency Projects for science

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ANR funded project

Construction de l'Espace Européen de la Recherche (MRSEI) 2016
Projet PAR

Engaged Citizens — Bridging the Gap Between Research and Civil Society

The concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) emerged in Europe about a decade ago. Although numerous competing definitions exist (Von Schonberg, 2011 ou Stilgoe, Owen, Macnaghten, 2013), they all agree that it aims at bridging the gap between science and society. Society becomes an active player in different scientific domains. Especially, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are increasingly playing a vital role in research. In the context of the EU policy agenda on responsible research and innovation (RRI) and its focus on public engagement, this role is likely to continue to grow in the future. E.g., there is currently a strong call for and promotion of public participation in research, notably through the EU’s research funding programme Horizon 2020. At present however, CSO participation remains limited. Within the previous Framework 7 funding programme in 2012 only 21% of collaborative research projects reported involving at least one civil society organization (Legris Revel, 2013).

Against this background, it is astonishing that there is no systematic research about the different forms of co-producing knowledge by combining variables of social interaction as well as ones of knowledge production. Current research is mainly focused on single cases (e.g. Escobar 2014) and only a few studies offer insights with regard to systematic differences in the research activities (e.g. Frickel et al. 2010). But such insights are of principal interest, if one would like to enhance the options for CSO inclusion in research. Therefore, the aims of the planned EU-project are twofold: Firstly, to analyze thoroughly the interaction for knowledge-production between researchers and CSOs and citizens as co-research and to classify this in different types. Secondly, to build up networks of co-researching by offering web-tools and concrete support for co-research. The originality of the planed European project rests on a dichotomy of the objectives: on one hand theoretical (basic research and applied, knowledge production, data analysis) and, on the other hand experimental, through a co-developed analysis of on-going participatory research projects (citizen sciences and participatory action research). The various methods available to involve the citizens will be listed. The remaining obstacles will be studied in order to go beyond "good intentions" to question "implementable regulation". The consortium will organize many experiments and give CSOs, inhabitants, women, students or lay citizens a chance to get support when they take the initiative of raising scientific concerns or of leading research projects. A web collaborative tool will be produced, including training sessions and train the trainers sessions, and tested within some of our partners activities. A set of participatory tools will be tested and disseminated addressing participatory data analysis ie : empower citizens in order for them to become able to contribute to data analysis (and not only data collection) in different scientific disciplines.

Starting from the collect and analysis of existing tools and of their strengths and weaknesses for participatory research, some of the project partners would co produce and test new collaborative tools dedicated to collective data analysis.
One key challenge for the planned EU-project is to foster an international network of skilled scholars and non-academics able to promote and manage participative research. The success of the planned EU-project will fundamentally depend on the success to build up such a network in advance.

Therefore, the central goal of the proposed MRSEI project here is to set up such an international network while defining the research agenda. This is a challenging process because scientific as well as practical needs are to be considered and the overall cooperation structure has to cover a huge number of partners and to build up a consortium for the EU-proposal.


AEIDL Association Européenne d'Information sur le Développement Local

DIST Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transition

CNAM Conservatoire national des arts et métiers

CB Cybelle Planète

DMU De Montfort University

EHESS Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

ExCiteS Extreme Citizen Science research group

FSC Fondation Sciences Citoyennes

IECP Institut ecocitoyen pour la connaissance des pollutions

ITAS Karlsruhe Institute of Technology


Univ Carl université Carleton d'Ottawa

UCL Université catholique de Louvain

UL, CERAPS Université de Lilles, Centre d'Études et de Recherches Administratives, Politiques et Sociales

Geoscience University of copenhaguen

WIB wilabonn

ANR grant: 29 952 euros
Beginning and duration: mars 2016 - 18 mois


ANR Programme: Construction de l'Espace Européen de la Recherche (MRSEI) 2016

Project ID: ANR-16-MRSE-0010

Project coordinator:
Madame Martine Legris (Université de Lilles, Centre d'Études et de Recherches Administratives, Politiques et Sociales)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.