Probing the Impact of Integrity and Integration on Societal Trust in Science

The POIESIS project brings together seven partners from across Europe, to study the impact of research integrity issues and societal engagement practices on trust in science.

As societal dependence on sound scientific research and responsible innovation has become increasingly visible, concerns about public trust and mistrust in science have simultaneously been mounting. This highlights the crucial importance of the cultural authority of science. The debate about societal trust in science is characterised by three intuitively appealing assumptions:

  • First, that trust depends on scientists’ capacity to demonstrate high standards of research integrity and ethics, and that breaches of research integrity will lead to mistrust.
  • Second, that citizens’ and civil society’s involvement in co-creating research agendas and content makes research more relevant and responsive to society and consequently strengthens trust.
  • Third, that institutions can foster integrity and societal integration by enabling and supporting researchers to act responsibly.

Objective and methodology

While these assumptions seem plausible, supporting evidence is scarce and inconclusive. In POIESIS, we therefore aim to question and study these assumptions. POIESIS’ research objective is to understand how and to what extent societal trust in science, research and innovation is affected by the alignment of research practices with principles of research integrity and by the integration of citizens and societal stakeholders in different phases of the research cycle.

POIESIS will study this through combining three empirical research lines. First, it uses an analysis of existing data streams on citizen trust, responsible and questionable research practices, and institutional policies to enhance responsible research. Second, it relies on the implementation of a portfolio of small scale studies, tailored to capture empirically the relatedness of integrity, integration, and trust, focusing on the chains of mediation that connect research practices with, ultimately, the interpretation and assessment of these practices by wider, non-academic publics. Third, the project will be conducting a set of participatory research actions in which stakeholders actively co-create knowledge, focusing on the role of institutions in nurturing responsible research cultures and practices that are conducive to trust in science

Project information: EU funded project

POIESIS is a HORIZON-WIDERA project and coordinated by AU. It runs from Sept 2022 to Aug 2025. The project brings together six European partners in addition to Aarhus University: The London School of Economics (UK), Wissenschaft im Dialogue (GER), The National Technical University of Athens (GRE), Instituto Universitario de Lisboa (POR), Centre National de la Recharche Scientifique (FRA) and Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Inversigaciones Cientificas (SP).