LeNa-Shape: Socially responsible research

Design, impact assessment, quality control

In April 2021 for the first time in an international context, the LeNa Shape project began researching whether and how the principle of “socially responsible research” changes research processes and projects in terms of their quality, impact and motivation of the involved researchers. Based on these analyses, the aim is to qualify the “socially responsible research” principle as a standard element of research practice for sustainable development (

The project work is bundled in two modules: LeNa-Move addresses motivational aspects of the researchers and institutional framework conditions; LeNa-Value is concerned with the quality of research and its impacts. Fraunhofer ISI coordinates the LeNa-Value module, where teams from non-university research organizations and universities work together closely in the fields of sustainability research, ethics, the social responsibility of science and research, and impact research. LeNa-Value conducts research on the questions listed below together with the following partners:


  • Which definitions of high quality science are used nationally and internationally? How are these changing?
  • What are the ethical and science-theoretical foundations for socially responsible research?
  • What consequences for the traditional criteria of excellence are expected within the science community if science places greater emphasis on its social responsibility and implements this in the research process? Is there any empirical evidence for these?
  • If science is increasingly expected to contribute to managing societal challenges, measuring the impact of research also becomes more important. What methodological developments can be identified here?
  • What lessons can be learned from a corresponding impact assessment based on a case example of the bioeconomy?


The work on LeNa-Value will take place in an interactive process using different methodological approaches. The results will be presented as “Narratives for excellent research”, which can be used to demonstrate why a stronger orientation towards socially responsible research is expected to increase the quality of research results. The narratives take up the ethical foundations and the significance of societal responsibility and not only address the relationships of research, but also develop proposals for new criteria, measurement and evaluation methods as well as approaches to implement socially responsible research.


April 2021 to March 2024


The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF as part of its Social-Ecological Research program and supported by the Project Management Agency DLR.

Project coordination of the LeNa-Value Module

Fraunhofer-Institute for System and Innovation Research ISI, Karlsruhe


  • Fakultät für Katholische Theologie, München
  • International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW), University of Tuebingen
  • Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe
  • Leibniz Centre for Agriculture Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg
  • Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen