Scandals and RRI – Call for Papers

We’re delighted to announce that a Call for Paper for the special issue on ‘How Do Scandals Shape the Understanding and Practice of Responsible Research and Innovation?‘ for Journal of Responsible Innovation.

Full call can be found here: [link to be added]

Please find the reference list here

In brief

Scientific scandals are particularly important to our understanding and practice of responsible research and innovation (RRI). There is a shared belief that research scandals are most instrumental in shaking up scientific systems (Robaey, 2014) and a shared recognition of a rising frequency of research misconduct (Fanelli 2009, Drenth, 2010, Kornfeld and Sandra 2016, O’Gardy, 2021. Roy and Edwards, 2023). Yet there is a dearth of systematic examination on how irresponsible research activities shape governance and scientific norms and on how we should engage with scandals or scandalous individuals responsibly and effectively to inform the future (Vinck, 2010, Owen, Macnaghten and Stilgoe, 2012, Meyer, 2022). This special issue aims to fill this gap.

The special issue invites both full research articles (6000 to 10000 words, inclusive of references, endnotes) and perspective articles (2,000 words) that address but are not limited to one or more of the following themes:

  1. In what ways do scientific scandals inform or transform our understandings of RRI and its governance? When and why do scandals fail to instigate change?
  2. Why do scandals seem to be more frequent in contemporary science? What does it say about the nature of contemporary research and governing practices? 
  3. What are the conditions (e.g. cultural, political, or structural characteristics) that make scientific contention or malpractice into a ‘scandal’?
  4. Why should policy-makers or regulators care about scientific scandals? What is the value of studying scientific scandals or scandalous individuals for national, regional or global governance? 
  5. What is the role of social scientists in shaping public debates on research scandals and subsequent science-society and/or science-politics relations? 
  6. What constitutes ‘responsible’ social studies of scientific scandals? How should such studies be organised and its findings delivered, while being sensitive to diverse publics in a global age? 
  7. What are the new methodological innovations that can be used in identifying and analysing scientific scandals to inform policy? How can we maximise insights from studies of individual (and often highly contextualised) cases to inform future governance (across different contexts)?
  8. What would make a study of scientific scandals irresponsible or invalid? How can we best avoid the social unpacking of scientific scandals from becoming ‘scandalous’ itself?
  9. How should we communicate scientific scandals and responses to the public? What needs to be communicated, at what point and by whom? How should the public be engaged in dealing with scientific scandals?
  10. How can we prevent a single incident of scientific scandal from gaining traction and diverting public attention from more important or urgent topics relating to technological advancements? Or, how can scientific scandals be used to gain further attention on important policy/governance issues that have failed to get traction.

Submission instructions

Please submit abstracts (300 words) directly to the guest editors by 15 October 2023. Those accepted will be invited to submit a full paper, to be submitted by 31 January 2024.


Joy Y. Zhang (

Kathleen Vogel (

Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley (