The Six Keys of RRI

The Keys of Responsible Research and Innovation

Although the EPSRC commissioned the AREA Framework, it is widely recognised and used as a basis for RRI approaches across a range of funders and projects. The European Commission has also covered and promoted RRI in its Research Framework Programmes. The EU perspective builds on a different organisational history and has a different emphasis. But it provides a complementary perspective on RRI here.

The European Commission uses the term RRI to denote a number of policy activities it has pursued. These were combined under the headings of ‘Science and Society’ (FP6), ‘Science in Society’ (FP7) and ‘Science with and for Society’ (Horizon 2020). 

The six keys under these headings constitute responsible research and innovation practices according to the EU. These six keys are: Ethics, Science Education, Gender Equality, Open Access, Governance and Public Engagement.

One way of interpreting the relationship between the AREA Framework and the six keys is that AREA answers the question of ‘how’ to do RRI, whereas the six keys focus on the ‘what’, i.e. the RRI content. Below, the four AREA elements and the six keys are described together in more detail in order to provide a basic explanation of RRI that can be used for projects funded either by the UK or the EU.