Pairing scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility

1 December 2022

Aurora universities share a commitment to social relevance and excellence in research. Aurora RI was created to build a platform to maximise Aurora’s research and innovation for societal impact. This means working together towards excellence in research with coordinated research support.

We want researchers and scientists in Aurora:

  • to have an easy time collaborating with one another:
    • Get assistance finding grants
    • Share resources and equipment
    • travel to meet one another
  • to be evaluated fairly with a wider criteria
  • to connect with citizens
  • to have a positive impact on society

To accomplish this, we focus on the administrative hurdles researchers face; the “computer says no” problems. This means building stronger bridges between administrative staff and researchers, academics, and scientists. The people who work in HR, research support services, grants offices, IT, international offices, rectorates, and communications are coming together to work on changing policies, identifying areas where collaboration is easy and also areas where cooperation is tricky, and working on productive solutions.

Collaboration is key

Auður Inga Rúnarsdóttir is one of those people, as she is the project manager of Aurora Research and Innovation. According to her, collaboration is key to changing the world of academia. “We can make academia fairer, evaluating researchers based on wider criteria, for example, not focusing only on the number of publications but also other factors. We make sure that research is societally relevant and in line with the SDGs,” she points out.

The final goal is to develop a shared support plan for research and innovation where all the universities agree on joint next steps and what changes need to be made. “We work on open science policies, open access to data and publications. This allows researchers to use information that may otherwise not be available to them or blocked by a paywall. Institutions must choose which paywalls to break, and the selection is always imperfect. Wealthier institutions can grant more access, fostering inequality in academia,” says Auður on the importance of the project.

Where do we stand now?

This is a three-year project, and we are one year in. The first year was focused on mapping, gathering information about policies, methods used for outreach, research support, best practices in HR, and citizen engagement. Entrepreneurial activities were analysed to set up plans for communicating and disseminating the work.

We have created a database for infrastructure and resources and are currently working on how to share it. In three years’ time, we will have action plans in place in multiple areas (HR, research support, entrepreneurial activities) as well as new structures for effective cooperation between science and society, thus pairing scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility,” concludes Auður on Aurora’s dedication to develop platforms for academic collaboration and in the process, hopefully, making academia greener, fairer, and better for all.

A video with Auður Inga made for the Autumn Virtual Aurora Biannual held 9 – 10 November on Sustainable Resources and Mobility in Europe: