To understand how different dimensions of responsibility enter researchers’ practices and whether the policy-oriented framework RRI offers a meaningful way for researchers to conceptualise themselves as responsible, we use a narrative approach. In that narratives are understood as a way of sharing meaning in practice, of actively participating in meaning-making and of reconfiguring individual and institutional identities, they allow us to access the entanglement of social, epistemic, political and symbolic aspects in the lives of academic researchers (cf. Czarniawska 2004; Gabriel 2000).
Inspired by the notion of narrative infrastructure (Deuten/Rip 2000), we develop the concept of “narrative infrastructures of contemporary academic research (NICAR)” to understand how Austrian life scientists address and silence responsibility in speaking about their practices and reflect upon the importance of narratives for the (self-)governance of science (Felt/Fochler 2012).
This will allow us to gain a better understanding of the spectrum of different meanings of responsibility in research practice (ranging from research integrity, over public engagement, open access to anticipation, etc.). Beyond that, we are interested in understanding how far understandings of responsibility in research cultures are linked to, and compatible with, understandings of responsibility by policy makers, media, institutional actors or other stakeholders.


Czarniawska, B. (2004). Narratives in Social Science Research. Introducing Qualitative Methods. London: Sage Publications.

Deuten, J. J., & Rip, A. (2000). Narrative Infrastructure in Product Creation Processes. Organization, 7(1), 69-93.

Felt, Ulrike and Fochler, Maximilian (2012) 'Re-ordering Epistemic Living Spaces: On the Tacit Governance Effects of the Public Communication of Science', in Rödder, S., Franzen, M. and P.Weingart (eds), The Sciences' Media Connection – Communication to the Public and its Repercussions. Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook 28 (Dortrecht: Springer): 133-154.

Gabriel, Y. (2000). Storytelling in Organizations. Facts, Fictions, and Fantasies: Oxford University Press.