Published March 8, 2024 | Version Version 1.0 (with watermark)
Project deliverable Open

D3.2 REPORT ON THE RESULTS OF THE FOCUS GROUPS WITH STEWARDS OF TRUST

  • 1. ROR icon Centre for Social Innovation

Description

This deliverable reports the results of engagement with key Stewarts of Trust and the exploration of one of the core questions of the VERITY project: ‘how trust is built’? This was achieved by identifying, evaluating, and categorising strategies and methods of addressing mistrust in science through a multi-stakeholder consultation process. The process encompassed 21 expert interviews and 3 focus group discussions held in Austria, Belgium, and Greece. These interviews and focus groups provided an opportunity to bring together a diverse number of Stewarts of Trust, including researchers, science communicators, policymakers, industry actors, journalists, and digital activists and the process aimed to replicate a model of the Ecosystem of Trust to enhance understanding of the interlinked roles of Stewards of Trust in fostering trust in science.

The categorisation of strategies and methods that address mistrust in science reflects the project’s methodological framework and its identification of five machines of trust, namely science communication, benefit sharing, technology assessment, research ethics, and research integrity. The report documents participant opinions and responses regarding which methods and key stakeholders could be considered the most efficient and effective for building trust in science, while also considering the impacts of cultural, socioeconomic, political, and psychological conditions on the development and implementation of trust-building.

Based on the multi-stakeholder consultation, several basic conditions were identified by participants that were considered necessary to align scientific activities with societal needs, expectations, and values. A key finding highlighted that methods to address mistrust in science should be tailored to different groups based on their key characteristics, such as age, gender, education level, living environment, and core values, such as political ideology, religious orientation, or social norms. Importantly, findings emphasised that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Each trust issue should be assessed in a broader socioeconomic and political context since mistrust in science is often only part of a general mistrust in scientific and political institutions.

Another key finding demonstrated that it is crucial to build sustainable collaborations between different Stewards of Trust to help identify and engage with the right audience. Network-building facilitates common knowledge transfer and evidence-informed decision-making among relevant stakeholders, including citizens, CSOs, industry, policymakers, and RPOs. Therefore, findings suggest that strong networks contribute to understanding the fundamental trust issue and enhance the development of tailor-made methods, which will address target group needs.

In addition to education, methods that foster collaboration between Stewards of Trust were promoted. These included the utilisation of targeted citizen engagement or local network-building. Interestingly, activities aimed at engaging citizens in scientific discussion or decision were deemed less important than the creation of broader and more sustainable local knowledge networks between citizens, CSOs, policymakers, industry, scientific organisations, and media.

Participants also proposed methods which clearly relay scientific benefits to people, for instance, by facilitating more equitable open science infrastructures and processes. It was acknowledged that science communication methods should use different narrative styles and techniques to better explain scientific methods and processes to citizens. 

Participants acknowledged that science communicators should utilise methods that aim to highlight characteristics that verify trustworthiness, such as benevolence and integrity. Additionally, they also suggested the enhancement of a research integrity and ethics culture within the wider scientific community, to include both academic and non-academic stakeholders within the Ecosystem of Trust.

Findings document that methods vary in their potential scope. Ambitious methods were suggested that envisage fundamental changes, such as a new moral framework that puts the values of fairness, respect, care, and honesty at the forefront of science, or a modernised academic recognition system to align scientific activities with societal needs and expectations.

While it was agreed that identified methods could be used individually, it was suggested that they are most effective when used in conjunction and collaboration between different Stewards of Trust. This combined approach strengthens impact, depending on the targeted population segment and the scientific field.

Files

VERITY_D3.2_Report on FGs with Stewards of Trust (WATERMARK).pdf

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Additional details

Funding

VERITAS – deVEloping scientific Research with ethIcs and inTegrity for shAred benefitS 101058623
European Commission