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Ethics and responsible research and innovation in practice: the ETHNA system project
González-Esteban E., Camarinha-Matos L., Feenstra R., Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland, 2023. 249 pp. Type: Book (9783031331763)
Date Reviewed: May 29 2024

For many institutions that focus on research and innovation, today’s buzzwords are “responsible research” and “innovation.” Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is also the focus of this book. An open-access text, and part of Springer’s “Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS)” series, the book stems from the European Union (EU) ETHNA System project. Its goal “is to provide a practical and useful guide that will help other institutions to start introducing research ethics effectively in their organizations.”

The book is divided into four parts: “Foundations,” “Experiences and Lessons Learned,” “Ethics Tools in Practice,” and “Looking into the Future: Main Challenges.”

Part 1, “Foundations,” comprises three chapters. The first chapter covers institutional governance of RRI, focusing on the different models. Chapter 2, on the ETHNA System and support tools, introduces the participatory and thoughtful nature of the ethics execution proposed by ETHNA, as well as other elements of the ETHNA System. The third chapter focuses on “the importance and necessity of stakeholder engagement.” It mentions how various demands “can be ... considered in the design, process, and outcome of the research.”

“Experiences and Lessons Learned” comprises four chapters. The first chapter is on evaluating RRI institutionalization efforts: “specificities, drivers, barriers and good practices based on a multi-stakeholder consultation and living lab experiences.” It specifically discusses the methodology and steps taken during implementation, spotlighting “the general barriers, drivers, and good practices” followed in the ETHNA System project. The second chapter is on implementing RRI in a nongovernmental research institute. The third chapter is on implementing RRI in a research and innovation ecosystem. The fourth chapter is devoted to “developing RRI and research ethics in universities.”

Part 3 on ethics tools has three chapters. The first chapter, “Relevance and Challenges of Ethics Committees,” includes interesting examples and references. The second chapter is on RRI learning facilitation. Here, the reader can find a helicopter view of “how to design and promote RRI learning.” The next chapter, “Activities to Foster Public Engagement in Research and Innovation,” includes examples and analysis from the NewHoRRIzon project (

The last part of the book looks at future challenges. The first chapter, on evidence-based research integrity, focuses on the eight main contexts provided by the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity: (1) research environment; (2) training, supervision, and mentoring; (3) research procedures; (4) safeguards; (5) data practices and management; (6) collaborative working; (7) publication and dissemination; and (8) reviewing, evaluating, and editing. The second chapter is on gender mainstreaming and RRI. It examines “the two perspectives from which work is being done in the European context”:

One perspective advocates working on gender equality as one of the key areas of RRI, while the other argues for mainstreaming gender in order to integrate it into all dimensions of RRI.

The next chapter discusses challenges related to unlocking open science. It provides a conceptual framework that is applicable to current arguments around the issue. The last chapter of the book, “Ethics and Development of Advanced Technology Systems in Public Administration,” focuses specifically on artificial intelligence (AI)-based systems. A helpful author index is included.

This well-written book should interest researchers and individuals at universities and research organizations, in addition to other stakeholders who may be interested in RRI. The assorted contributions offer a diverse range of experiences and perspectives, which should be useful to institutions carrying out processes related to RRI. While there are many books on RRI [1,2,3,4,5], Ethics and responsible research and innovation in practice: the ETHNA system project is highly recommended for its intended audience.

Reviewer:  S. V. Nagaraj Review #: CR147772
1) Blok, V. Putting responsible research and innovation into practice: a multi-stakeholder approach. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 2023.
2) Gianni, R.; Pearson, J.; Reber, B. Responsible research and innovation: from concepts to practices. Routledge, New York, NY, 2019.
3) Wittrock, C.; Forsberg, E.-M. ; Pols, A.; Macnaghten, P.; Ludwig, D. Implementing responsible research and innovation: organisational and national conditions. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 2021.
4) Ferri, F.; Dwyer, N.; Raicevich, S.; Grifoni, P.; Altiok, H.; Andersen, H. T.; Laouris, Y. ; Silvestri, C. Governance and sustainability of responsible research and innovation processes: cases and experiences. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 2018.
5) Iatridis, K. ; Schroeder, D. Responsible research and innovation in industry: the case for corporate responsibility tools. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 2016.
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