Societal issues that need to be addressed by policy-making are complex: on the one hand, decisions are often pressing and time for decisions is limited; on the other hand, the impacts are often unclear and far-reaching. Collaborative research approaches, such as transdisciplinary research or sustainability science, are contested outside the relevant communities in academia and in parts of society that were not part of the research process. Science for decision-making in society and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) have many overlaps in terms of methods but are different in terms of their scope and intention. For both, it is of importance to include the viewpoints of non-scientific stakeholders into the processes of research. While the tools and the challenges of their applications are similar, the scope and intention of RRI and research for society can and should be distinguished. By definition, research for society is applied research.