Animal Research Statements – Doing it Right

We recently updated our Animal Research Statements page. Now, not only can you find whether your institution has a statement on animal research (and where to find it), you can also see some information about what an institution’s animal research pages contain.

We now have a list of 177 position statements and web pages on animal research, of which 11 (including us) should be considered outstanding. These are the Max Planck Institutes for Biological Cybernetics Tüebingen (DE) and Neurology München (DE), Understanding Animal Research (UK), the Universities of Cambridge (UK), Oxford (UK), Imperial College London (UK), University College London UK), Michigan (US), Wisconsin-Madison (US), the National Primate Research Centers (US) and Speaking of Research.

A good statement should clearly lay out why an institution conducts, funds or supports the use of animals in research. Better information, case studies, facts, figures, images and video can help show the public why such research is crucial.

Michigan animal research

The University of Michigan website shows images of animals, provides information on their research, their animal welfare and much more

Our grading system gives institutions up to four ticks. These are awarded for:

  • More Information: Does the website contain additional information on a number of aspects its animal research, such as animal welfare, regulations, types of research etc.? (✓)
  • Extensive Information: Does the website provide extensive additional information, addressing commonly asked questions and specific information about the institution’s animal research programmes? (✓)
  • Case Studies: Does the institution have at least two case studies which explain how their researchers use, or have used, animals for scientific, medical or veterinary purposes? Case studies should be easily accessible from the animal research page(s). (✓)
  • Images / Videos: Does the website contain at least two images of animals from its own facilities, or any videos showing animals in its research?  (✓)

While it may seem that those institutions without any/many ticks are not doing a good job discussing their animal research online, they are doing infinitely better than the hundreds of institutions which do not discuss their animal research on their website at all. We congratulate each and every institution that puts up any statement which clearly explains why they conduct animal studies.

UK institutions are doing particularly well, both in terms of the proportion of institutions with statements, and the quality of web pages. Some of the credit for this should be attributed to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, led by Understanding Animal Research. So far in the UK, almost 100 organisations “involved with life science in the UK” have become signatories to the Concordat which commits them to:

Commitment 2:

We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals

  • Within one year of signing up to the Concordat we will make a policy statement about the use of animals in research available via our websites, to provide clear information about the nature of our own involvement with animal research and its role in the wider context of our research aims…

UCL

The UCL website provides images, statistics, facts, regulation information and much, much more

There are still many institutions which do not have any public facing information about their animal research. We need your help urging these institutions to put up information, as well as finding existing statements that we have missed on our list.

Exemplary

Speaking of Research is making a big push for institutions to be more open in their animal research. We believe outreach is an essential, not optional, part of research.

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