Public Perceptions of Responsible Innovation

November 17th, 2021

Understanding public perceptions of science and technology which enables responsible research and innovation

Project Duration: July 2020 to June 2025

Network of business concept.

Credit: iStock/metamorworks

Understanding public perceptions to facilitate and monitor socially responsible innovation

The Challenge

“New applications of science and technologies provide great opportunities to generate public and private benefits, but they can also pose challenges, which, if left unresolved, can hinder the progress and innovation that science and technologies can deliver to society and to future generations.”1  

As Australia’s trusted advisor on science and technology, ensuring that we innovate in a socially responsible way is critical to maintaining that trust with Australians. As such, it is essential we understand and measure public perceptions and expectations of responsible innovation to shape, track and increase public confidence in the science and innovation sector.

Furthermore, understanding public perceptions of socially responsible innovation and integrating this understanding with the innovation system is a powerful way of generating positive outcomes for society from novel and innovative science and technology.

Responding to the Challenge

There is a core component of risk management in both the development of innovative research and technology, and its possible uptake in society. CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform is seeking to better understand public perceptions of science and technology in order to facilitate and enhance responsible research and innovation.

This project aims to understand and measure perceptions of responsible science into emerging technologies affecting society, and to inform policy and practice within CSIRO and the wider innovation system. It will design and conduct a national survey of public perceptions of responsible innovation, as well as conducting interviews with CSIRO staff as part of reflecting on our own organisation’s responsible innovation practices.

Project Impact

This project seeks to bring the interface between science and society closer together so that a broader understanding of public values can better inform and shape the pathways that science and technology take.

More specifically, this project seeks to:

  • inform the science and innovation sector (including industry, governments, regulators and policy makers) about ways for enhancing and improving responsible innovation practices consistent with wider public perceptions and expectations.
  • maintain and improve trust in science and innovation in the general population in the context of increasingly contested knowledge spaces.
  • provide a survey vehicle for the Australian public to share their ideas about responsible innovation and to monitor public perceptions of responsible innovation in Australia over time.

High-quality standards, guidelines and frameworks exist that facilitate ethical research practice and integrity in Australia and overseas. This project seeks to understand and better integrate public perceptions of socially responsible innovation into the scientific research and innovation system. Through understanding, valuing and drawing upon public perceptions of responsible innovation, we can identify and minimise any societal risks and unintended consequences and maximise societal opportunities and benefits that innovation brings.


CSIRO: Rod McCrea (Project Leader), Elizabeth Hobman Rebecca Coates and Sarah Bentley

Additional information on public perceptions and responsible innovation is available:

CSIRO News Release, An interview with Justine Lacey on Responsible Innovation and the Future of Science in Australia

The Conversation article, Scientist want to build trust in science and technology

CSIRO Report, The science-society relationship in Australia: toward responsible innovation – Survey of scientists, researchers and other professionals in the Australian research and innovation system: CSIRO Research Publications Repository – Publication

Peer Reviewed Journal article, Open science for responsible innovation in Australia: understanding the expectations and priorities of scientists and researchers:

CSIRO Report Responsible Innovation: What do Australians think? Results from the 2021 Responsible Innovation National Baseline Survey:


1 Lacey, J. & Fisher, E. (2020), Interview with Justine Lacey on Responsible Innovation and Future Science in Australia, OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology, 24(5), 233-236.

More information