PROmoting integrity in the use of RESearch results (PRO-RES)

Project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme
Grant Agreement: 788352
Duration: 36 months
Start date: 01/05/2018
The project official website
To effectively use research, policymakers must rely on the validity and reliability of its results. Currently, however, the existing means of ensuring ethical research practices and maintaining integrity across the full range of non-medical sciences are inadequate. Researchers, auditors, regulators and policy makers are confronted with different and sometimes conflicting codes of ethical practices and regulations, with the complexities of data protection legislation, with inconsistencies in the application of regulations and with professional and practical pressures to conduct research in full range of non-medical fields.

The PRO-RES project will address these constraints by offering a comprehensive, flexible and lasting guidance framework covering the spectrum of non-medical sciences and offering practical solutions to all stakeholders who will respect the highest standards of research ethics and integrity. This framework will take into account previous examples of good work and good practice, and will try to provide a set of pragmatic solutions based on previous work and creating strong links with ongoing projects.

PRO-RES is carried out by a heterogeneous consortium of 14 partners from 10 countries. Knowledge & Innovation will collaborate at all stages of the process and will be particularly involved in consulting stakeholders interested to define an ethical guiding framework for research, and ensuring that such framework incorporates the principles and practices of RRI (responsible research and innovation), especially , especially regarding the governance of RRI Constellations of actors. A report on the RRI implications of the framework will be produced.


Report “Framework in the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) context”

How the conceptualisation and practice of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) can contribute to the PRO-RES Guidance Framework, aiming to foster the highest standards of research ethics and scientific integrity in non-medical sciences? This is the subject of the Deliverable D3.5. “Framework in the RRI context”, submitted on December 2020 to the EC by the K&I PRO-RES team as conclusion of a specific task devoted to the RRI.
The analysis of the document is based on different sources, referring to activities carried out by all the PRO-RES partners in 2019 and 2020, summarises the origins and background of RRI, a strategy aimed at modifying the established social model of production and reproduction of science in order to connect it strongly to societal expectations, needs, concerns and problems. Next, the text describes the formulation and scope of RRI, to introduce the added value of the RRI approach for research ethics. Finally, recapitulating the arguments for a profound renewal of ethics in the non-medical sciences, the report focuses on the potential contribution of the RRI approach to the PRO-RES ethical guidance framework and, more generally, to help navigate the uncertainty characteristic of the contemporary research and innovation landscape. In particular, RRI is seen as a way for ethics to broaden its horizons, grasping in advance the implications of scientific and technological development, while contributing to the formulation of better evidence-based policies.

PRO-RES Ethic Matter Conference

In the framework of PRO-RES (Promoting Ethics and Integrity in Non Medical Research –, on February 4 2020 in Brussels it was been held the “Ethics Matters” Conference. During this initiative, some of main issues of the relationships between ethics, non medical research disciplines and use of for policy and decision making evidence based have been discussed. In this context, PRO-RES project presented a draft version of an Accord addressed to researchers and decision makers containing some principles and important issues relevant for the elaboration of policies based on the scientific evidences and results. The “Accord” aims to promote a discussion in view of an ethical guidance framework for non medical research areas, able to provide tools, resources, case studies, contacts. The Accord is being object of a vast consultation activities involving researchers and stakeholders. The Accord is available here for comments and suggestions. For this purposes, an online consultation has been launched, that it is available here. All the interested are invited to participate.
During the Conference, in breakout sessions ethical aspects tied with the promotion of scientific evidence based policy in domains such as covert research and surveillance; working in dangerous areas or in conflict zones; behavioural research and data collected by social media and internet; artificial intelligence and robotics; environmental research. The Conference has been closed by a round table with researchers, policy makers, journalists and CSO representatives.
Alfonso Alfonsi (K&I Team) attended the Conference and, with professor Paul Spicker, he coordinated the session on covert research and surveillance.
For more information, please visit the PRO-RES project web site:

PRO-RES Workshop on responsible research and ethical frameworks

On June 12, 2019 a workshop was held in Brussels, at the headquarters of KOWI, on “Ethical Frameworks and Responsible Research – Challenges to Science in a Changing World”, organized by K&I under the PRO-RES project. The meeting is part of a series of exchange initiatives between researchers of various disciplines and stakeholders aimed at developing a guidance framework for ethics and research integrity. The Workshop was attended by 24 people, including researchers, research managers, representatives of the European Research Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.
The workshop, chaired by Giovanna Declich (K&I) was opened by welcome speeches from Louiza Kalokairinou (Ethics and Research Integrity Sector, European Commission); by Angela Liberatore (Head of the Human and Social Sciences Unit of the European Research Council Executive Agency; by Gabi Lombardo (EASSH – European Alliance for the Social Sciences and the Humanities, PRO-RES partner). The subsequent intervention by Wiebe Bijker (Emeritus Professor of Technology & Society at the Maastricht University) focused on the need to distinguish between ethics and integrity of research, the difficulty in adapting the ethical standards of medical sciences to social sciences and the importance of institutional mechanisms for applying the ethical framework by PRO-RES. Luciano d’Andrea (K&I), after having contextualized the reflection on ethics and responsibility in the changes taking place in society and in science, proposed an exploratory approach to ethics. Ingeborg Meijer (Centre for Science and Technology Studies , University of Leiden) illustrated the approach used by the NewHorrizon project, which dealt with ethics in the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), through the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders.
The subsequent discussion on the ethics and responsibility of researchers addressed the relationship between scientists and policy makers and the contribution of science to decision making and the problems existing in ethical evaluation (among others, the presence of many codes and regulations; the malfunctioning of ethics committees; the new challenges to ethics from technological innovation; the relationship between ethics and freedom of research).
In the afternoon, the agenda focused on the first draft of the PRO-RES ethical guidance framework, illustrated by Ron Iphofen, AcSS, partner responsible for drawing up the framework. The discussion concerned both the format and the contents, as well as the relationship with the policy makers.
The discussion with researchers and policy makers will continue in the coming months, through the many initiatives planned by the project (other workshops, online consultations, mid-term conference in February, etc.).

PRO-RES Workshop on privacy, surveillance e covert research

The PRO-RES workshop on “Surveillance, privacy and covert research: current challenges to the research ethics and integrity”, organized by K&I, took place in Rome on April 11 2019, at the premise of Saperi&Co, La Sapienza University of Rome. The initiative is part of a series of workshops aimed at discussing with researchers from various disciplinary background and stakeholders on the main ethical problems they are facing in their activities in non-medical research sectors. The discussion was aimed at contributing to the elaboration of a guidance framework on research ethics and integrity. The Workshop was attended by 24 participants, including researchers, research managers, lawyers and law specialists, representatives of civil society organizations, of United Nations, of European Research Council. The participants, coming from Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Slovenia, UK, were experts and practitioners in the fields of privacy, surveillance and covert research methods. The workshop – chaired by Alfonso Alfonsi (K&I) – was opened by the welcome addresses of Joseph Cannataci, United Nations Special Rapporteur on privacy, and Marie-Sophie Peyre, Sector Ethics review and Monitoring of the European Research Council Executive Agency, followed by three introductory speeches on privacy, surveillance studies and covert research, held respectively by Jeanne Mifsud Bonnici, Professor of European Technology Law and Human Rights, University of Groningen (NL); Emmeline Taylor, City University of London (UK), Representative of the Surveillance Studies Network, and Paul Spicker, Emeritus Professor of Public Policy, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen (UK). In the afternoon, the discussion of the first draft of the PRO-RES guidance ethical framework was introduced by Ron Iphofen, AcSS, partner and responsible of WP3 of the project. The discussion was intense and fruitful. It will continue also during the next months through the various PRO-RES initiatives already planned, such as other workshops, online consultations, a mid-term conference.

Stakeholders’ map concluded and available for next project’s actions

In October, the K&I project team has concluded its work related to the creation of a stakeholders map. Such map is geared at identifying and listing relevant organisations and individuals to be involved in the subsequent activities, mainly with the aim of drawing the landscape of potential interlocutors for the forthcoming ethical guidance framework for non-medical sciences. The process, started with the identification and internal validation of at typology of institutions and individual relevant to PRO-RES objectives, allowed to map, mainly but not only in Europe, 768 different entities, collected in a database and described in a deliverable. internal to the project consortium. The stakeholders map made the object of the Task 1.1, led by K&I and implemented by all the partners, and formed part of the initial work-package, devoted to map existing policies, projects, networks and practices.

PRO-RES Kick-Off meeting in Brussels

On 22 and 23 May 2018, the Kick-off Meeting of the project “PROmoting integrity in the use of RESearch results in evidence-based policy: a focus on non-medical research (PRO-RES)” took place in Brussels. The meeting was attended by 26 people, including representatives of the 14 bodies from 10 different European countries joining the consortium, and EC officers, who exposed the point of view and expectations of their institution with regard to the PRO-RES expected results. As part of the project, the consortium coordinated by the European Science Foundation (ESF) will engage in a broad dialogue with stakeholders to create a framework on research ethics and integrity that can be applied to the full range of non-medical sciences, drawing on previous fundamental work financed by the European Commission and other national and international agencies. As part of the meeting, after the reciprocal presentations, the main purpose of the project was discussed and how to effectively activate the various stakeholders in research areas characterized by topical ethical issues (among others, research conducted through social media and Internet sources: the one carried out in cutting-edge technological fields such as nano and biotechnology, in dangerous or conflict areas).