Science Shops Background

Science Shops?

Great research could start when regular people inspire science, when somebody —as explained by Norbert Steinhaus (Living Knowledge Network)—reformulates, translates society’s questions into a language that scientists understand. One of the methodologies that emerge from communication and understanding between civil society and science is the so-called “Science Shop”. Science Shops facilitate collaborative research projects based on concerns brought forward by society. 

Science Shops are meeting opportunities to generate research and change. They translate, reformulate, the questions that society asks to allow a new knowledge to be developed jointly with the people, for the benefit of the community.

The traditional narrative of the Science Shop model includes University students, creating synergies between social issues and scientific development. This traditional narrative also includes Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) as protagonists in the exhibition of a real concern presented under the form of a simple question according with the available expertise. The answer to that question raised by a CSO may require a simple bibliographic consultation or a specific investigation. That research is assigned to students as part of their final dissertation, under the supervision of an experienced researcher.

But traditional narratives and models traditionally change… At InSPIRES, as it happens at many other community-based participatory research initiatives, we are asking Science Schops to reach out to vulnerable sectors and to unorganized civil society groups, operating both in urban and in rural areas. Working mainly but not exclusively at the health and environmental sectors, we also aim to ensure the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation and Open Science in the way Science Shop operate, as for example the incorporation of better inclusive deliberation methods, the systematic introduction of the impact evaluation strategy, making the resulting data available, or introducing gender analysis in the research and innovation processes. This is how we want to nurture the development of innovative, culturally adapted and more inclusive models to solve the societal grand challenges that lie ahead of us.


Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

The research and innovation landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. New modus operandi have sprung up across the research and innovation sector, including various participatory models where science and society work more closely together.

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) seeks to bring issues related to research and innovation into the open, to anticipate their consequences, and to involve society in discussing how science and technology can help create the kind of world and society we want for generations to come. RRI entails engaging all actors (from individual researchers and innovators to institutions and governments) through inclusive, participatory methodologies in all stages of Responsible and Innovation (R&I) processes and in all levels of R&I governance (from agenda setting, to design, implementation, and evaluation).

The European Commission has promoted throughout Horizon2020 objectives a framework that includes different policy agendas preserving: public engagement, open access, gender equality, science education, ethics, and governance.



Living Knowledge Network

Living Knowledge Network (LKN) is composed of persons active in -or supportive of- Science Shops and Community Based Research. Living Knowledge aims to foster public engagement with, and participation in, all levels of the research and innovation process.

As the International Science Shop Network, LKN facilitates cooperation with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to generate research ideas, questions and agendas. Research is performed in response to these questions (…). LKN’s goal is to co-create research to find solutions and therefore make a positive impact on real world problems.

The Living Knowledge Network (…) pursues the idea of public engagement with, and participation in, all levels of the research and innovation process: participation of citizens and/or CSOs in generating research ideas, questions, and agendas; participation in monitoring, steering, advising on or performing research; in data collection, data analysis or scenario development; and the co-creation of knowledge with the aim of contributing to social change.

Living Knowledge promotes an open dialogue and debate between science and civil society:

  • It provides scientific knowledge for citizens in an open, action-oriented and participatory way
  • It brings civil society issues and interests to the scientific discussion
  • It promotes the co-creation of knowledge among Civil Society Organisations and researchers



Science Shop: If you have the passion, try it