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Lab Times



The idea of supporting the best science


the world and not that


the world

has become popular. Science-society issues have also gained momentum in the on-

going EU Framework Programme, Horizon 2020. Participating scientists and their institutions

are faced with new challenges, including modified rules for publication and data sharing.

Science and Society

in Horizon 2020 and Beyond

Career strategi for young European scientists (LII)

Photo: Fotolia/ptnphotof


uropean Framework Programmes for

Research and Technological Develop-

ment were launched about 30 years

ago. Approximately €80 billion have been

earmarked in the current eighth consecu-

tive programme (2014-2020) for all sorts

of research, development and innovation,

with the ultimate goal of increasing the

economic competitiveness of the European

Research Area. Horizon 2020’s three main

funding pillars are scientific excellence, in-

dustrial leadership and societal challenges.

In addition, there are smaller programmes,

such as Science with and for Society whose

mission it is to bridge the gap between the

scientific community and society.

But societal topics are not confined to

EU research agendas and academic dis-

course. In Horizon 2020, they have arrived

at the level of the individual research pro-

ject and the scientist involved. For example,

requirements for compliance with ethical

standards, or for sharing publications and

research data, must either be compulsori-

ly addressed or on an optional basis for the

time being. In some funding programmes,

new criteria such as gender balance have

been included as ranking factors for appli-

cations, receiving the same score during

evaluation. Moreover, scientists must now

justify their research proposal by estimat-

ing its economic impact and societal bene-

fit, in addition to its scientific value and Eu-

ropean added value. Responsible research,

open access, Science 2.0 and citizen science

are just a few recent concepts, which are be-

coming increasingly relevant not only in the

context of EU programmes, but may also in-

fluence the way science is funded at the na-

tional level in the future. Here,

Lab Times

will provide some insights into recent de-

velopments, with a focus on open access in

Horizon 2020 and beyond.

Humble beginnings

The promotion of research and innova-

tion in order to create new knowledge, tech-

nologies and products has always been at

the core of the EU Framework Programmes

(FP). As well as research, addressing the

scientific outcome and broader impact of

EU-supported projects and programmes has

gained importance over the years. More em-

phasis has also been gradually placed on re-

search and additional activities, targeting

legal, ethical and societal issues associated

with science and technology. The funding

of small-scale pilot projects, including tech-

nology assessment and foresight studies,

but also larger programmes, were to some

extent motivated by novel emerging tech-

nologies and their applications (such as, for

example, genetic engineering in the past

and, more recently, nanotechnology and

geoengineering), or by disease outbreaks

and environmental catastrophes.

In the late 1980s, intensifying com-

munication with the public and getting to

know the public’s opinion on and knowl-

edge of science and technology were on

the EU agenda. In the 90s, the policy fo-

cus shifted slowly towards the integration

of social and ethical aspects of science and

engineering research, for example, by using

the Targeting Socio-Economic Research FP4

programme. To improve the understanding

of the benefits and limitations of scientific

and technological research by the general

public, programmes such as the FP5 Rais-

ing Awareness Programme were launched,

aimed at sensitising scientists to matters of

concern to the public.

Societal issues pick up speed & Euros

The Commission working paper Sci-

ence, Society and the Citizen in Europe,

published in 2000, was a key document that

culminated in the first Science and Soci-

ety Action plan of the European Commis-

sion. Subsequently, new concepts promot-

ing dialogue and participation were put for-

ward in FP6 (2002-2007), for example, by

the €80 million Science and Society pro-

gramme and the €225 million Citizen and

Governance in Knowledge-based Society


The shift from Science and Socie-

ty to Science in Society was made in FP7

(2007-2013) to stress that both areas are

not separate entities but highly intercon-

nected. The €330 million programme en-

abled hundreds of research, coordination

and support actions as well as initiatives,

conferences, seminars and expert groups.

In a recent presentation by the DG RTD B7,

the Unit of the Directorate-General for Re-

search and Innovation in charge of science

and society issues at the European Com-

mission, three main outcomes of previous-

ly funded science-society projects were em-

phasised. First, good marketing alone is no

longer sufficient to gain public acceptance

of technology. Second, the key to innova-

tion adequacy and acceptability is the early

and continuous engagement of the public.

Finally, to achieve greater creativity and to

promote better results in the whole research

process, diversity at all levels and in all as-

Maria Leptin

, EMBO Director, Heidelberg, Germany: “Data

are indeed an essential component of publications. In our

view, an important element of the open sharing of research

is unrestricted access (which means Open Access with a li-

cense that does not impose undue restrictions) to the data

published in papers with sufficient context to allow use

and reuse of this data. With its SourceData project, EMBO

is currently developing editorial tools to make this vision

possible. Open access to data in research papers can be

achieved without necessarily converting the journal to OA.”