Diagnosis: Proposal Template Level

Hi all, as many will note, in the Diagnosis Template, there is a section related to diagnosing RRI in the “Proposal Template Level”. I do not know if RIA and CSA Templates are standardized across H2020…but assuming they are, there is little need for everyone to analyze these templates. To that end, please find below my notes from comparing the RIA & CSA templates from 2014/15, 2016/17, and now the 2018/20 WPs. I close with a short summary of what I hope is information of potential relevance/interest. Please comment if you a) have different interpretations; b) other ideas; c) know if templates differ for each program line; d) have ideas how to present this information across SLs, rather than duplicating in each WP & SL diagnosis, if the templates do not differ; e) any other comments, of course. Cheers, Michael.

RIA Proposal Template WP 2014-2015

– Contains a check box table for a section on ethics, investigating whether research involves human embryos, humans, human cells or tissues, personal data, animals, non EU Countries, environment protection, dual use, misuse, other ethics issues. NOTE these generally fall under the category of “responsible conduct of research” ethics. BUT NOTE it is not a required form for stage 1 project proposals.

– Section 1.3 contains a bullet point under “concept and approach” to “Where relevant, describe how sex and/or gender analysis is taken into account in the project’s content.”

– Section 2.1 contains a sub bullet under “expected impacts” for “elaborating any other environmental and socially important impacts (if not already covered above)”

– This section also contains a bullet pointing to section 3.2, related to description of barriers/obstacles related to the work impacts. (A connection to anticipation)

– Section 2.2.a contains a sub bullet under “dissemination and exploitation of results” related to open access measures (related to OOO)

– There is also a note urging submitters to “consider the full range of potential users and uses, including research, commercial, investment, social, environmental, policy-making, setting standards, skills and educational training where relevant.”

– Section 3.1 contains a note regarding participation in the “Pilot on Open Research Data”, related to OOO, noting that such projects must include a ‘data management plan’ as a distinct deliverable in the first 6 months of the project.

– Section 3.2 contains a bullet under “management structure and procedures” pertaining to risks associated with project implementation and objectives. NOTE this is not explicitly related to RI, but does align with “anticipation” activities associated with one school of thought on RI.

– Section 4.1 contains a bullet under “participants” in which the gender of researchers/project partners must be listed.

– Section 5.1 is devoted fully to ethics, although not in the sense commonly associated with RI—more for responsible conduct of research. Ethics self-assessments are requested for any boxes checked in the overview section. The ethics self-assessment must include a description of how the project meets national legal and ethical requirements; how ethical issues related to objectives (e.g., vulnerable populations), methodology (e.g., consent), and impact of research (e.g., dual use, environmental, social stigmatization, political or financial retaliation).

 

RIA Proposal Template WP 2016-2017

– The mains sections of the Ethics Issues table are largely the same from 2015. Small differences like “Protection of Personal Data” becomes “Personal data”; “non-eu countries” becomes “Third Countries”; “Environment Protection” becomes “Environment & Health and Safety”. Details are added as sub questions to many of the fields, for example, under personal data “does it involve tracking or observation of participants” is an added question, but not uniformly, and not always are questions different. One new section is added “Exclusive focus on civil applications”.

– A new note is added up front related to the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020, asking if people ask to opt out, and why.

– The bullet point related to gender in 1.3 is broken out as “1.3.b. Methodology”, but the content is otherwise identical.

– In Section 2 on Impact, the sub bullet from 2015 is folded into a single sub bullet asking about enhancement t related to innovation capacity, market opportunities, climate change, the environment, or “other important benefits for society”

– The sub bullet on barriers / obstacles is the same.

Material in section 2.2 is consistent with 2015, with additional information related to the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020” 

– Section 3.2 on management structure critical risks is unchanged.

Modified in section 3.3 is a sub bullet on the consortium as a whole related to “in what way does each of them contribute to the project? Show that each has a value role, and adequate resources in the project to fulfill that role.” (MJB Observation this could be an interesting point to discuss as a way in for RI to proposals—is support given for these components of projects sufficient?). Also added is language on international organizations.

– Section 4.1 is unchanged

– Section 5.1 is unchanged

 

CSA Proposal Template 2014 & CSA Proposal Template 2017

– Share a similar structure to the 2015 and 2017 RIA templates, respectively, regarding the Ethics Issues Table.

– Similarly, the 2017 template for CSA also includes details about the Pilot on Open Research Data in the section on call-specific questions.

– Section 1.3 for each 2014 and 2017 are the same—with no Methodology breakout. The content is identical, and contains the same wording around “ho sex and/or gender analysis is taken into account int he project’s content”

– Section 2.1 related to barrier/obstacles is the same across CSA templates, and identical to the RIA section.

– Under section 2.2 on impact, the changes to the 2017 CSA template are identical to those of the 2017 RIA template, prompting in more explicit language attention to dissemination planning and project follow-up to facilitate uptake by policy or the public:

Your plan for the dissemination and exploitation of the project’s results is key to maximising their impact. This plan should describe, in a concrete and comprehensive manner, the area in which you expect to make an impact and who are the potential users of your results. Your plan should also describe how you intend to use the appropriate channels of dissemination and interaction with potential users.

Your plan should give due consideration to the possible follow-up of your project, once it is finished. Its exploitation could require additional investments, wider testing or scaling up. Its exploitation could also require other pre-conditions like regulation to be adapted, or value chains to adopt the results, or the public at large being receptive to your results.

– Section 2.2 in the 2017 CSA template also includes additional detail on the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020 (similar to the change from the RIA

– Section 3.3of the 2017 CSA contains the same changes as in the RIA, related to specific contributions of consortium members to the project.

– Sections 4 and 5 are unchanged and identical to RIAs

Revisions post January 2017, for the 2018-2020 Work Program

– No revisions were registered in the font matter change log, however small variations were sprinkled throughout the documents.

Section 1.3.b “Methodology” section includes a fairly significant change in reference to gender—one that can be traced back to the results of the interim H2020 evaluation. The new text states: Where relevant, describe how the gender dimension, i.e. sex and/or gender analysis is taken into account in the project’s content” (Emphasis original, p. 2).

– The text itself, as well as the note on the text, clarifies that the gender section is to refer not to balance in teams, but rather to the content of the research and innovation activities—a mistake noted in the H2020 evaluation and recommended as an area for improvement in the short-term (p234): “The qualitative analysis of a subset of 111 projects from gender- flagged topics showed the 53 % included the gender dimension either well or in part. The notion does not seem to be well understood and is o en confused with gender balance in research teams – nor is it always well evaluated” (p173-174)

– Section 2.2.b on “communication activities”, langue related to public engagement was actually moved (“Where relevant, include measures for public/societal engagement on issues related to the project” (2017a, p 5)) for the 2018-2020 Work Program version and placed in the Excellence section 1.3.a “concept”. “Describe and explain the overall concept underpinning the project. Describe the main ideas, models or assumptions involved. Identify any inter-disciplinary considerations and, where relevant, use of stakeholder knowledge. Where relevant, include measures taken for public/societal engagement on issues related to the project” (p. 2)

– This is another promising change, as it suggests a view on engagement that moves beyond uni-directional communication strategy to something central to the concepts underpinning a project—an outlook more in-line with concepts espoused in the RI literature.

 

Overarching points

RIA and CSA templates are nearly identical to each other, and remain largely stable over time. Differences between the CSA templates from 2014 and 2017 mirror those identified in the RIA 2015 and 2017 templates. Small additional changes were made thought the templates for the 2018-2020 work program.

– Of relation to RI/RRI/OOO, I note the following proposal attributes: elements of anticipation (e.g., related to commenting on obstacles and critical risks to delivering expected impacts); sections requiring consideration of gender; opportunities to expound on ethical issues related to research integrity and responsible conduct of research, and also to more macro-ethical issues (e.g., the section on impact of research); and information on open access considerations.

– Note that in the guidance on completing ethical self-assessments, the role of the ethicist in the pre-proposal stage is described as as follows: “From the beginning of your project, an ethics adviser can help you deal with ethical issues and put in place the procedures to handle them appropriately. If your research includes several ethical concerns or involves several significant or complex ethical issues (such as participation of children from developing countries, ’non-human primates (NHPs)’, potential misuse or vulnerable populations) we suggest you appoint an ethics adviser or an ethics advisory board comprising several experts from different backgrounds. The Commission/Agency may also make this an ethics requirement during the selection procedure.” One can see here the instrumental logic for participation of social science and humanities against which responsible research and innovation sought/seeks to push against.

– Changes between 2014/15 and 2017 versions of the templates reveal the kinds minor modifications that can be carried out in proposal templates. For example, in the ethics tables, addition of language related to Environment & Health and Safety (beyond just the environment); in section 2.2., greater prominence to inclusion of business plans where relevant; more abundant notes to submitters regarding the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020; greater specificity on articulate where, who, and how impact will be disseminated and followed-up; in section 3.3, prompts to articulate the specific contributions of project partners to the project.

– These differences seem to show how proposal templates can be meaningfully updated in ways that encourage specificity of plans regarding prospective risks, managerial dimensions, and engagement plans. Importantly, several of these changes may be also tied to evaluation guidelines—specifically, the criterion: “quality and efficiency of implementation” that is common to most RIA and CSA actions. While this is often a minority weight in evaluation, it seems one of the few points of leverage for influencing “non-research-content” related change.

– For WP2018-2020, the templates do seem responsive to feedback from the H2020 evaluation related to gender. In addition, the template seems to reflect an increased awareness that ‘public/societal engagement’ can be central to the conceptual underpinnings of a project, beyond a tack-on activities placed in a communications plan.

– How the changes identified actually affect proposal submissions, evaluation scores, and project implementation would require analysis beyond the scope of NewHoRRIzon.

 

References

European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2017a) H2020 Programme Proposal template 2016-2017 Administrative forms (Part A) Project proposal (Part B) Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) Innovation Actions (IA). Version 3.1 11 January 2017.

European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2017b) H2020 Programme Proposal template 2018-2020 Administrative forms (Part A) Project proposal (Part B) Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) Innovation Actions (IA). Version 3.2 27 October 2017

European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2014) Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) Administrative forms (Part A) Research proposal (Part B). Version 1.3 4 December 2014

European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2017c) H2020 Programme Proposal template 2016-2017 Administrative forms (Part A) Project proposal (Part B) Coordination and Support Actions (CSA). Version 3.1 11 January 2017.

European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2017d) H2020 Programme Proposal template 2018-2020 Administrative forms (Part A) Project proposal (Part B) Coordination and Support Actions (CSA). Version 3.2 27 October 2017

European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2016) H2020 Programme Guidance: How to complete your ethics self-assessment. Version 5.2 12 July 2016. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/grants_manual/hi/ethics/h2020_hi_ethics-self-assess_en.pdf

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