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.