Die Zukunft der Forschung – Exploring the future of research – Report EU Project „RIF Research & Innovation Futures 2030“

Report: Exploring the future of research. Trends and drivers in doing and governing research

(Deliverable D1.1. Stocktaking report on results of FLAs and the state of the art in research)
Petra Schaper-Rinkel, Matthias Weber, Dana Wasserbacher, Ellen van Oost, Gonzalo Ordonez-Matamoros, Matthijs Krooi, Rick Hölsgens, Mika Nieminen, Antti Pelkonen, 2013, Download RIF2030 Download RIF Stocktaking Report
Exploring the future of doing and organizing research: introduction
The emergence of new research practises and the changing conditions under which scientific research is undertaken are reconfiguring the landscape of science, technology development and innovation (STI) in Europe. Web 2.0 social media are changing the way scientists are collaborating in research (e.g. ‘Facebook for researchers’). Current research practices generate new kinds of data (e.g. participatory sensing) and research involves more and more actors as everyone is producing digital data everywhere that can be used for research (e.g. using mobile phone data for urban planning). The traditional scope of stakeholders is expanding to include citizens, patients and volunteers in conservation issues as well as a range of providers of online-platforms and research related services. Tensions are likely to arise between strategies to promote open access on the one hand and the significant market power of the main publishers and their databases used by science policy to measure the output of research and to determine funding on the other hand. The potential of research digitalization to impact science is huge; by changing research practices, changing ways of communicating and publishing research results and by challenging institutions and regulatory regimes that are established within national or transnational boundaries. These are examples of new ways of doing research that are related to new ways of organizing research on different levels ranging from the laboratory to the global landscape (Global Challenges). Science is expected to play a key role in society’s response to emerging global grand challenges over the coming decades, even though different groups question the cultural authority of science.
The RIF project – Research and Innovation Futures 2030: From explorative to transformative scenarios – explores these issues. It focuses on analysing new and emerging ways of doing research in universities, research organisations, companies, and civil society. The RIF project concentrates on the dynamics of change resulting from the interplay of developments within STI systems and their societal context. It is based on the assumption that current trends and developments in STI are likely to give rise to tensions that need to be addressed.
This report arises from research that aims at systematizing knowledge on emerging patterns, trends and drivers of change in science, technology development and innovation. Its aim is to give an overview of trends and drivers in organizing research and to collect, compile, and condense the most up-to-date academic and forward-looking knowledge on new and emerging patterns of STI. It is based on recent and ongoing forward-looking activities (FLAs) and on a state-of-the-art review of scientific research on new concepts and changing patterns of doing and organizing research. Based on these main sources, a first set of changes, patterns, trends and drivers in doing and organizing research was identified, ranging from changes in the laboratory to global issues such as the search for international strategies to address global challenges.
The current status of science in general and its further development has been the subject of international projects and reports over the past years. The UNESCO report on science states that research funding has continued to expand globally as governments worldwide recognize the crucial importance of science for socio-economic development (UNESCO 2010). In 2011, the International Council for Science developed explorative scenarios for the future of international science and emphasized the importance of state sovereignty, regionalism and globalism, as well as the crucial relationship between science and society (“ICSU Foresight Analysis Report 1: International science in 2031 – exploratory scenarios”, ICSU 2011; Keenan, Cutler et al. 2012). The UK Royal Society issued the report “Knowledge, networks and nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century” underscoring that national and international strategies for science are required to address global challenges (The Royal Society 2011). These reports give a comprehensive overview of trends and drivers in the present global landscape for science, technology and innovation. Other recently published reports highlight changing modes of developing knowledge and creating innovation. The recently finished EU project INFU – Innovation futures in Europe – provides a foresight exercise on emerging patterns of innovation and created visions, scenarios and implications for policy and practice focusing on innovation. It has shown that emerging innovation models such as open innovation, user innovation or community innovation are indicating that innovation is increasingly perceived as an open, distributed and networked phenomenon (INFU Policy Brief 2012). The new innovation culture is associated with changing modes in knowledge production in academia and with changing working conditions in scientific research. Research cultures in Europe are simultaneously converging and become increasingly heterogeneous, but with all the differences that exist among disciplines and countries there is a growing demand for rapid production of innovation at any price conducted by a flexible, short-term workforce. To make research an attractive place to work in and to facilitate creativity, the incentive and support structure of the STI system is crucial (Felt 2009).
Crucial for the understanding of recent transformations are the changing research practices and changing conditions for research. This is the reason why this report focuses on new ways in doing and organizing research in the knowledge societies. Science and society are entangled to the point where they cannot be separated and many of the new research practices and their changing institutional conditions represent sticking points that refer to tensions within the STI system. The reconfigurations of science, research, technology and society have stimulated a flurry of analysis and comment over the last decades. Most of the diagnostic analyses are based on observations of the political, social and technological conditions that influence science policy, research funding, and research practices. ‘Mode 2’ knowledge is characterized by being generated within a context of application (Gibbons, Limoges et al. 1994; Nowotny, Scott et al. 2003). Issue driven science related to policy issues of risks and the environment has also been characterised as post-normal science. The recognition of different legitimate perspectives and ways of knowing as a relevant feature of post-normal science would require an ‘extended peer community’, involving all those with a stake in the dialogue on the issue (Funtowicz / Ravetz 1993). In the 1990s the “transition to entrepreneurial science” was described by highlighting the “capitalisation of knowledge” as the heart of a new mission for universities, linking universities to users of knowledge more tightly (Etzkowitz 1998). This development from “academic to post-academic science” was seen by others as a “serious threat to the non-instrumental role of science in society”. From this perspective, the political demand was formulated that “maintenance of the non-instrumental roles of science should be a primary consideration in debating every aspect of its future” (Ziman 2003: 27). Whereas Mode 2 conceptualizes the new ways of conducting and organising research as a limited but increasing part of the science system, post-academic science characterizes the whole science system as replacing traditional academic research. Different approaches to understanding, explaining, extrapolating and anticipating the transformation of the STI system have emerged, but the dynamics are a matter of debate and controversy (Hessels / van Lente 2008). What remains similar in the variety of analysis and comment over the last decades is the observation that science and research is being conducted under changing conditions.
This report follows many of the main issues that have been the subject of different approaches over the last decades. We analysed the dynamics of change along six cross-cutting and interrelated dimensions (Figure 1, p. 7). In this report, new research practices and changing conditions for research are presented as issues of change. Some of these issues of change can be characterized as weak signals for developments that might become important in the future, while other issues of change describe established trends.
Technology, especially digitalization (p. 9 ff.), characterized as cyber science or science 2.0, enables and enforces cooperation, interaction and new ways of collaboratively doing and organizing research (p. 28 ff.) Whereas the trends toward digitalization, interaction and collaboration are significant in academia and in all branches of science, the changes along other dimensions are characterized by tensions and frictions. Access to research data, funding, infrastructure, results, benefits, and careers is characterized by controversies and counter‐movements between the visions of openness on the one hand and ongoing commercialization and commodification of knowledge that is co-producing segregation, exclusion and closure on the other hand (p. 54 ff.). Tensions and frictions can also be identified with regard to the impacts of research, e.g. the sometimes conflicting demands between traditional impact assessments (bibliometric indicators) and new approaches orienting research strategically to Grand Challenges (p. 64 ff.). The increasing globalisation and internationalisation of research form a dimension that has attracted increasing attention. Within this dimension heterogeneous trends can be observed, including migration of researchers and international cooperation as well as the development of international research agendas (p. 76 ff.). All these changes are highly interconnected and they are all related to the open debate about the place and the re-contextualization of science in society (p. 80 ff.).
Trends and drivers in doing and organizing research were initially identified ‘top-down’ in some core state-of-the-art publications and reports (eg. Siune, Markus et al. 2009; ICSU 2011; The Royal Society 2011). The bottom-up approach started with a systematic screening of Foresight documents (from EFMN and EFP) and of the last five years of a selection of journals.[1] Keywords indicating new topics and trends in doing and organizing research were used to find recent articles in the database Web of Science (maintained by Thomson Reuters) for further analysis. To cover the most recent developments these sources were complemented with data from other sources, especially by an on-going screening of science magazines (e.g. nature news, telepolis, Science Magazine) and STI-related discussion groups (on LinkedIn).

[1] The following journals were selected: Research Policy, Social Studies of Science, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Science, Technology and Human Values, Technology in Society, Technology and Culture, International Journal Foresight & Innovation Policy, Futures, Science and Public Policy.