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Resources For Researchers

These resources are curated for scholars researching alternative approaches to tech innovation for the purpose of deconstructing and revising standard practice.  From published articles to interactive modules, each of the resources below demonstrate new approaches and mindsets for approaching engagements with design.

If you’re unsure about the type of resource you’re looking for, we suggest using our searchable database to look through our entire resource library.

Created by: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSCRC) of UK Research and Innovation

Following the principles of Anticipate, Reflect, Engage, Act (AREA), this resource establishes the ethos of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK.

The ESPRC “recommend that all researchers demonstrate awareness of and commitment to the principles of responsible innovation” following the AREA approach described on the page. This web page offers a model for incorporating ethics in research and development and offers a list of its own suggested resources at the bottom.

Created by: International Indigenous Sovereignty Interest Group (within the Research Data Alliance)

  • Access here

Based on the principles of Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics (CARE) this resource explores the power imbalances inherent in data sharing, especially with how it conflicts with the autonomy of indigenous peoples.

In their own words: “The current movement toward open data and open science does not fully engage with Indigenous Peoples’ rights and interests. Existing principles within the open data movement (e.g. FAIR: findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) primarily focus on characteristics of data that will facilitate increased data sharing among entities while ignoring power differentials and historical contexts. The emphasis on greater data sharing alone creates a tension for Indigenous Peoples who are also asserting greater control over the application and use of Indigenous data and Indigenous Knowledge for collective benefit…  The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance are people and purpose-oriented, reflecting the crucial role of data in advancing Indigenous innovation and self-determination.”

Created by: Forum for the Future

This resource includes a complementary report and guide for industry professionals to begin the process of transitioning their businesses to embrace models of sustainability. The creators argue that this transition is necessary for “social and environmental systems,” “planetary health,” and “human rights,” to create fairer ways of creating and distributing social values, and to build resilience across generations and geographies.

The report is organized into three sections, the last of which is aimed at providing practical tools and steps for businesses to reorient and redesign themselves to meet sustainability and equity targets, broadly defined.

The creators describe their aim as “to stretch business ambition to the next frontier of sustainability while simultaneously identifying some practical implications of how to start applying this to current activities and business functions. A compelling and clear synthesis is provided of current leading thinking around just and regenerative practice. It seeks to: 

  •      1. Create a robust definition of what being just and regenerative means for businesses and demonstrate the importance of this mindset shift                 for unlocking transformative action. 
  •      2. Introduce the Business Transformation Compass as a navigation guide for understanding and shifting the approach your business takes to                 change. 
  •      3. Draw out implications of this approach by describing the ‘critical shift’ needed on a range of issues and business functions.”


Created by: Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI)

OPSI describe their Toolkit Navigator as “a pathway to hundreds of freely available innovation toolkits, developed by authors in the public, private, academic and not-for-profit sectors. Whether you want to learn something, create something, or connect with others, the resource will guide you to toolkits, people and information needed to get you started.

It provides information about common methodologies used for public sector innovation, links to relevant government case studies applying these methodologies and access to a network of public sector innovators. The Toolkit Library contains resources suggested by the innovation community, community reviews and, where the publisher agrees, the editable source files for you to download and adapt to your own context.”

Created by: Deepa Butoliya

Butoliya’s website offers two toolkits that can be used to apply critical design principles to public discourse. The first is a set of stickers which can be directly applied to the surface of objects to label them with Speculative Critical Design and Design Fiction terms. The second is a set of trivia cards that assesses affluence and privilege, politics, assumptions, and futurities.

Butoliya describes the toolkits as such: “I have designed a critical framework for evaluating Speculative Critical Design. This is a framework used to assess the argumentative quality of public debate. This acts as a heuristic tool of critical questions which the facilitator of public debates might employ to stimulate a critical and reasonable discussion. It also helps develop critiquing skills while being exposed to such work.”

“In the evolutionary process of creating a critical framework, I decided to work on creating a ‘Critical Kit’ with the intention of the making criticism accessible to the masses. This Crit Kit would enable the viewer to submit their critical feedback in a tangible form and would give a material form to criticism. It is a method to elicit a critique that is latent or potential into existence.”

Written by: Timnit Gebru, Jamie Morgenstern, Briana Vecchione, Jennifer Wortman Vaughan, Hanna Wallach, Hal Daumé III, Kate Crawford

This academic paper advocates for the use of datasheets for datasets for increasing transparency for machine learning research. Datasheets are used in the electronics industry to describe every component in a dataset’s operating characteristics, test results, recommended usage, and other information.

“We propose that dataset be accompanied with a datasheet that documents its motivation, composition, collection process, recommended uses, and so on. Datasheets for datasets have the potential to increase transparency and accountability within the machine learning community, mitigate unwanted societal biases in machine learning models, facilitate greater reproducibility of machine learning results, and help researchers and practitioners to select more appropriate datasets for their chosen tasks.”

The paper addresses questions related to: Motivation, Composition, Collection Process, Preprocessing/cleaning/labelling, Uses, Distribution, and Maintenance.

Written by: Jack Stilgoe, Richard Owen, and Phil Macnaghten (appears in Research Policy, 2013)

In this paper, the authors introduce the four dimensions of responsible innovation (RI): Anticipation, Reflexivity, Inclusion, and Responsiveness. In addition, they question how to integrate this model into research, production, and pedagogical contexts.

The article includes several tables for identifying and thinking through product design problems to supplement its argument, such as the one below:


table describing four dimensions of responsible innovation

From RRI Tools, a database of tools and articles on RRI for policy makers, the research community, education community, business and industry, and civil society organizations 

“This toolkit is designed to help governments (and others) use algorithms responsibly.”

It provides a description of high level concepts and terms and then offers users questions on a worksheet to help them characterize algorithms, assess their level of risk, and then mitigate this risk with reflection and specific methods.

Created by: FOSTER

With a free account, FOSTER offers access to Open Science courses which provide a range of content on responsible research and innovation (RRI) in science, data managements, text and data mining, and other areas related to tech and data.

In their own words: “The FOSTER portal is an e-learning platform that brings together the best training resources addressed to those who need to know more about Open Science, or need to develop strategies and skills for implementing Open Science practices in their daily workflows. Here you will find a growing collection of training materials. Many different users – from early-career researchers, to data managers, librarians, research administrators, and graduate schools – can benefit from the portal. In order to meet their needs, the existing materials will be extended from basic to more advanced-level resources. In addition, discipline-specific resources will be created.” (About)

Created by: Innovate UK

The Horizons Toolkit is comprised of a set of cards that can be used independently or with a group to drive innovative thinking based on both commercial market trends and long-term sustainability concerns. The cards have definitions and key stats for various important topics, prompting consideration of factors such as: ozone, fresh water, land use, trust, longterm-ism, evidence, mobility, health, shelter, and energy.

Innovate UK promote the kit as “a great tool to help you understand the big issues and trends coming your way, and stimulate thinking and discussion about how you should respond to them.”

Created by: University of Glasgow’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 


The Impact Acceleration Accounts webpage offers a visually intuitive flowchart system for integrating the AREA framework (Anticipate, Reflect, Engage, Act) into one’s research to ensure standards for responsible innovation are being met.  

The accompanying handbook offers case studies and self-reflection questions meant to provide “a more detailed introduction to the AREA framework and contains questions you can answer to help you highlight gaps that may currently exist in your understanding of how your research could lead to impact. You can then use the framework to help you design activities to fill in the gaps”

Created by: John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise, University of Guelph

  • Access resource here (requires self-enrollment)

The Innovation Toolkit is accessed through self-enrollment. If you are not a University of Guelph student, faculty member, or staff, you will need to request access.

The university’s webpage describes the resource as “a process for problem-solving. It uses tools commonly found in entrepreneurship and innovation to help you tackle wicked problems on the issues that matter.

For over ten years, The John F. Wood Centre at the University of Guelph has led in community engagement, entrepreneurship, and innovation. We have adapted these tools from our work and research in those fields and codified them into a simple toolkit for use by students, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and community members. These tools are designed to support many groups. Students in particular will find further applications in first year seminars, fourth year capstone classes, skill-development graduate classes, industry-driven hackathons, pitch competitions, and everything in between.”

Created by: Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT (ORBIT)

This self-assessment tool enables organizations to assess how strongly they are “aligned with the principles and practices of responsible research and innovation.” It includes a 10-part survey that asks pertinent questions about RRI usage and consideration of topics such as anticipation of impacts, preparedness for different research outcomes, and levels of engagement with various stakeholder groups.

Created by: Stefan Kuhlmann, Jakob Edler, Gonzalo Ordóñez-Matamoros, Sally Randles, Bart Walhout, Clair Gough, Ralf Lindner

From PRISMA’s RRI Toolkit

  • Access here

The ResAGorA Responsibility Navigator is a downloadable handbook that “supports decision-makers to govern [their] activities towards more conscious responsibility. What is considered ‘responsible’ will always be defined differently by different actor groups in research, innovation, and society – the Responsibility Navigator is designed to facilitate related debate, negotiation and learning in a constructive and productive way.” 

The Responsibility Navigator supports the adoption of research measures in a way that promotes responsible innovation as an institutionalised ambition. It identifies ten governance principles and requirements (with case studies) and gives a set of questions related to each.

Through these means, “the framework can be used by actors facing dilemmas and complex situations impeding the governance of responsible research and innovation, and by actors wanting to reflect strategically on their own position as well as that of others in navigating R&I towards higher levels of responsible action.”

Created by: Rafael Calvo (Imperial College London) and Dorian Peters (University of Cambridge)

The Responsbile Tech Design Library offers a collection of modules aimed at “wellbeing-supportive design” with “methods of ethical analysis [as] a powerful way forward toward achieving more responsible and humane technology” (“About”).

The web page primarily links users to a large collection of resources (some of which are included as separate entries on our site).

Created by: RiEcoLab

  • Access here (individual toolkits accessed through Google Drive)

With this resource, RIEcoLab offers a series of training modules that offer free certification, one to one mentorship and support schemes for student researchers and academic and non-academic professionals, and specialized mentorship for startups and scaleups.

Each toolkit contains thought exercises, checklists, and frameworks that can be applied modularly. The toolkits focus on a range of topics, including:

  • Toolkit 1: Entrepreneurial discovery;
  • Toolkit 2: Setting up responsible & impactful knowledge and technology transfer office;
  • Toolkit 3: Responsible research and innovation;
  • Toolkit 4: Investment and financing;
  • Toolkit 5: Inclusive KPIs for impactful universities; 
  • Toolkit 6: Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Stakeholders

From RRI Tools, a database of tools and articles on RRI for policy makers, the research community, education community, business and industry, and civil society organizations

The RRI Self-Reflection Tool stimulates reflection and inspiration for innovation research “by providing questions organised according to the RRI Policy Agendas: Ethics, Gender Equality, Governance, Open Access, Public Engagement and Science Education.”

It is available in an interactive form for free online or can be engaged with through a downloadable template.

Written by: Indigenous Corporate Training Inc

  • Access here

This blog entry introduces The Seventh Generation Principle, drawing on Indigenous understandings that can help innovation researchers internalize that their work should not only consider stakeholders in the present moment but shape a better future and community for generations to come.

“The Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.”

Created by: New Horrizon

The Societal Readiness Thinking Tool is an interactive kit that “offers practical guidance for researchers who wish to mature the societal readiness of their work. The primary goal is to help researchers align their project activities with societal needs and expectations.”

Users of the tool are encouraged to register their projects and engage with it continually throughout the research process. Through this iterative process, the tool “prompts reflective questions to stimulate thinking about how to integrate ideas about responsible research and innovation into research practice, at different stages in the project life.”

Created by: Leyla Acaroglu et al.

This webpage features a collection of freely accessible toolkits aimed at product design, reorienting product lifecycle outlooks, and encouraging personal responsibility with sustainability goals. Written from an industry perspective, Acaroglu and her research team use terms such as “rebellious” and “disruptive” to describe their tech interventions. The team’s goal is to “support change-makers in adopting the skills needed to help transform the global economy into a circular and sustainable one by design.”

Many toolkits are included, but the two summarized below stand out in their adherence to Critical By Design’s ethos.

The Circular Economy ReDesign Workshop Kit: “This free toolkit has been designed after thousands of hours of workshops and trainings with groups around the world. Designed to support a flow from traditional linear thinking through to circular and sustainable solutions, the workshop kit includes 6 worksheets that step you through the process of 1) understanding a linear system through doing a product life cycle thinking exploration, 2) identifying areas of intervention that could be adopted with this current model, 3) exploring circular business strategies, 4) looking at sustainable redesign options and then ideating a series of proposition that 5) can be converted into a new circular flow and finally 6) do a quick product viability assessment to see how viable the new circular solution is.”

ChangeMakers Lab Card Game: “This universal card deck was developed as part of the ChangeMakers Lab, with 56 cards and 36 activities that can be downloaded and used by anyone to advance sustainability and creativity.”

Created by: Alex Crowfoot

  • Access resource here 

Sustainable Design Tools offers multiple interactive tools particularly aimed at organisations first looking to get started on working towards a circular economy and transition design. Using these tools in a team environment can help approach answers to tough questions such as: “What is our impact?” and “How might we reduce it?”

The tools are primarily informed by environmentalism and sustainability in designing technology and products. It contains six illustrated models for approaching business practices and research accompanied with discussion and guided reflection activities. The resources are designed to encourage more communication between designers and stakeholders, more critical research and consultation pre-design, and an assessment of the lifecycle and social impacts of technology. 

Created by: Artefact Group

  • Access here

Inspired by the visual and conceptual format of tarot cards, “The Tarot Cards of Tech are a set of provocations designed to help creators more fully consider the impact of technology. They’ll not only help you foresee unintended consequences–they can also reveal opportunities for creating positive change.”

Topics on the cards include “The Smash Hit,” “The Radio Star,” “The Siren,” “The Superfan,” etc., and encourage consideration of unforeseen factors or excluded stakeholders in the development of a design.

Interacting with the cards can be done either online through the interactive webpage or downloaded and printed for physical use in in-person workshops

Created by: Mark Abbott et al.

  • Access here (sign-up required)

The Tech Stewardship Practice Program (TSPP) is a free, term-long online course that offers thorough engagement with ideas relating to responsible innovation. The program combines resources (in the form of videos from tech stewards and information documents), peer-to-peer interactions on discussion boards, and reflection submissions. The course offers a certificate upon completion that can be included on your resume or CV.

Some of the program’s standout resources include:   

    • Practice Behaviour One Pagers – a series of self-reflection questions focused around key themes of seeking purpose (“What opportunities do we see to both FOCUS AND BROADEN the positive outcomes we are working towards?”), taking responsibility (“What opportunities do we see to both take ACTION AND REFLECT critically as we work towards benefit for all?”), expanding inclusion (“What opportunities do we see to both DEEPEN AND WIDEN who and what is included in our efforts?”), and working to regenerate (“What opportunities do you see to both UTILIZE AND CULTIVATE the various systems with which you engage?”)
    • Organizational Reflection Worksheet – an editable PDF worksheet that asks users to reflect on how often they or their companies engage in the positive side of the key themes noted above.
    • Module Questions – a series of questions related to module content that are answered/discussed on the program’s Community Board. 

Created by: Committee for Technological Innovation & Ethics (Komet)

As put by the creators: “This is a tool for a guided self-assessment. You will be asked a series of questions that will help you take a more responsible approach to your work. At the end of the self-assessment, the tool will provide you with a list of concrete actions. You can use the tool repeatedly in the course of your tech development work.” In addition, it helps its users consider both immediate and long-term risks towards encouraging responsible approaches for balancing ethical and practical perspectives. A Q&A and glossary are also included.

Komet claims the resource is “accessible for all technologies” and encourages users to “think of tech in the broadest sense: AI, biological life sciences, autonomous vehicles, etc.”

Created by: Terry Irwin & Gideon Kossoff (of Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Access here

The 2022 iteration of the Transition Design Seminar has passed, but its resources and framework remain available for free access.

In their own words, “The Transition Design Framework provides a logic for bringing together the transdisciplinary knowledge, skillsets and practices relevant to understanding, seeding and catalyzing systems level change. It is comprised of four key mutually reinforcing and co-evolving areas of practices, knowledge and skill sets relevant to understanding, seeding and catalyzing systems-level change: vision, theories of change, mindset and posture, and new ways of designing.”

The online course offers an introduction and guide to transition design theory and practical approaches and tools for understanding the macro-logics of the approach and for integrating the approach into design strategies, often with interventionist aims. The “Transition Design Framework” breaks up these strategies into five tabs and the webpages include a tremendous amount of scholarly resources, an entire course outline and syllabus, and references to other sustainable and responsible design frameworks.