Discussing Ethical Impacts in Research and Innovation: The Ethics Canvas

  • Wessel ReijersEmail author
  • Kevin Koidl
  • David Lewis
  • Harshvardhan J. Pandit
  • Bert Gordijn
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 537)


Technologies are increasingly intertwined with people’s daily lives. Consequently, there is an increasing need to consider the ethical impacts that research and innovation (R&I) processes, both in commercial and non-commercial contexts, bring about. However, current methods that offer tools for practicing ethics in R&I inadequately allow for non-ethicists such as engineers and computer scientists to practise ethics in a way that fits the character of their work. As a response, we propose a tool for identifying ethical impacts of R&I that is inspired by a method for the generation of business models, the Business Model Canvas. This tool, the Ethics Canvas, enables researchers to engage with the ethical impacts of their R&I activities in a collaborative manner by discussing different building blocks that together constitute a comprehensive ethical interpretation of a technology. To assess the perceived usefulness of the Ethics Canvas, a classroom experiment was conducted, followed-up by a questionnaire. The results suggest that the Ethics Canvas (1) is perceived as useful for identifying relevant stakeholders and potential ethical impacts and (2) potentially triggers reconsiderations of technology designs or business models.


Ethics Canvas Applied ethics Responsible research and innovation Practising ethics 



The ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology is funded under the SFI Research Centres Programme (Grant 13/RC/2106) and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. In addition, this paper has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 700540.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wessel Reijers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin Koidl
    • 2
  • David Lewis
    • 2
  • Harshvardhan J. Pandit
    • 2
  • Bert Gordijn
    • 3
  1. 1.ADAPT Centre, School of ComputingDublin City UniversityDublinIreland
  2. 2.ADAPT Centre, School of Computer Science and StatisticsTrinity College DublinDublinIreland
  3. 3.Institute of EthicsDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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