This Framework is a tool that helps those involved in research and innovation in ICT to do so responsibly. The Framework presented here consists of a set of scaffolding questions that allow researchers, funders and other stakeholders to consider a range of aspects of ICT research. This introduction to the Framework answers the following questions.

Why do we need a Framework specifically for ICT?

RRI is a topic that is strongly debated in more contested areas of research and technology, such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology or geoengineering. There are, however, some characteristics or features of ICT that set them apart from other fields. Key among them are:
  • Speed of innovation and diffusion
  • Ubiquity and pervasiveness
  • Applied and fundamental research
  • Logical malleability
  • Problem of many hands
  • Multitude of Backgrounds

What does the Framework consist of?

The Framework maps the four main components of the EPSRC AREA principles against four core aspects of RRI

Process

Process refers to the processes undertaken in research and innovation. These cover all activities in preparing research, undertaking data collection and analysis, storage and presentation of data and interaction with respondents.

Product

RRI is specifically interested in the outcomes of research and innovation activities. This can refer to products or services. It includes the consequences of use as well as misuse of research products and the impact that research has on the natural and social environment.

Purpose

Critical scrutiny in RRI extends beyond the conduct (process) and outcome (product) of research and covers the question why research is undertaken at all. The purpose of research is a crucial factor influencing acceptability and desirability and thus open to scrutiny.

People

Research and innovation are undertaken by people and for people and have intended and unintended consequences for people. People are at the heart of RRI and need to be explicitly considered.

How do I use the framework?

The framework consists of a set of questions that allow a researcher, funder, policymaker or other interested party to structure the way they think about research. It can be used to gain an overview of all sorts of different aspects of RRI in ICT. It can furthermore be utilised to gain insight into specific issues, questions or applications.