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Responsible Research and Innovation

The European Commission is promoting responsible research and innovation (RRI) as a key action of the ‘Science with and for Society’ objective. The various elements of RRI are major requirements for benchmarks and funding including, but not limited to the EU.

By means of its RRI working group EUHA aims to become a driving force for RRI and to increase outreach, transparency, quality and dissemination of data and help its members to become even more competitive and access new funding opportunities.

What is RRI?

Research funders, journals, academies and professional societies are calling for action to make biomedical research more trustworthy and useful to address global concerns about reliability, robustness, reproducibility and transparency. To address these issues, the European Commission is promoting responsible research and innovation (RRI) as a key action of the ‘Science with and for Society’ objective. University hospitals engage in research to further improve the quality of life and life expectancy of their patients. The RRI working group aims to increase outreach, transparency, quality and dissemination of research data, thus also empowering the patients and patient associations by putting them centre stage in research and healthcare. Furthermore, the various elements of RRI are major requirements and benchmarks for funding including, but not limited to the EU.

Driving RRI implementation

The EUHA strategic plan 2021-2023 prioritizes responsible research and innovation and for EUHA to contribute to the global discourse by sharing views in research and innovation related issues.

The EUHA Research Leads Network has therefore agreed to work on the following three topics:
  • Tracking and improving timely publication of EUHA interventional clinical trial results,
  • Making research results FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable),
  • Novel responsible indicators and good evaluation practice in hiring and promotion in research.

The RRI workgroup will initially be centered around those three subprojects. These were selected because substantial methodology and proof of concept for them has already been provided by EUHA members, because they require only a moderate input of resources (‘low hanging fruits’), but yet will have profound impact on measurably improving RRI practices. All three subprojects start with the mapping and benchmarking of specific RRI activities within EUHA and progress via discussion and consultation to concrete suggestions and help for implementation, with the development of specific action plans which provide concrete guidance to EUHA members when aiming at enhancing RRI within their institution.

Subproject 1: Tracking and improving timely publication and accessibility of summary results of interventional study results
Timely and comprehensive reporting of clinical trial results build the backbone of evidence-based medicine and responsible research and is a clear WHO mandate. Various studies, including by the Berlin Institute of Health QUEST Centre, have demonstrated that there is an unacceptable and unethical delay or even lack of result dissemination for many trials, and that academia lags behind industry with respect to timely publication. EUHA members therefore have committed to activating strong remedial actions. The first step was to track the completed trials at all EUHA institutions for timely publication and availability of publicly accessible summary results. With the commitment to improve their registration, and the exchange of best practices, various EUHA members have been able to substantially improve their practice regarding summary results.

Subproject 2: Making EUHA research results FAIR
Good research data management is not a goal in itself, but rather the key conduit leading to knowledge discovery and innovation, and subsequent data and knowledge integration and reuse. Consequently, the European Commission is striving hard to mandate that research data is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR), and soundly managed (European Commission, 2016). EUHA members pledge to increase the accessibility and transparency of their research through Open Science and to promote high-quality research data management (RDM). EUHA members will work on a joint strategy towards Open Data (OD), for example with web tools, data stewards, and institutional research data policies. Through a text-mining-based process developed by the QUEST Center, a mapping of the current status quo of Open Data in EUHA member publications may be followed by semi-automatic progress reporting and benchmarking.

Subproject 3: Novel responsible indicators and good evaluation practice in hiring and promotion at EUHA hospitals
EUHA members pledge to incentivize robust research mechanisms as well as innovative and relevant research by introducing responsible indicators to the institutional decision-making in hiring, tenure and promotion. EUHA members will select transparent, multidimensional criteria and apply good evaluation practices based on joint policy development and implementation program. The criteria will be informed by, and integrate a number of recent recommendations (e.g. DORA, EU) aimed at de-emphasizing the use of journal-based metrics such as the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and considering the value and impact of all research outputs (e.g. including datasets and software) in addition to research publications. Some EUHA members have already implemented novel application procedures for professorships (e.g. Charité Universitätsmedizin, Ospedale San Raffaele, Vall d'Hebron Barcelona Hospital) using short narratives, abandoning the Journal Impact Factor, integrated citation-based metrics (e.g. Relative Citation Ratio, RCR, NIH), or chaperoning of good evaluation practice officers in hiring commissions. As a first step, we will map the current EUHA member hiring, tenure and promoting policies, with the aim to then develop a joint policy and corresponding implementation plan for hiring, tenure and promotion of academics at EUHA institutions.


Roberto Buccione

Ospedale San Raffaele

Ulrich Dirnagl

Charité –

Universitätsmedizin Berlin