Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Europhysiology 2018 (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 41, C124

Oral Communications

Institutional Openness in Animal Research Under EU Directive 2010/63/eu

G. Barnfield1,2, K. Leech2

1. Department of Social Sciences and Social Work, University of East London, London, Waltham Forest, United Kingdom. 2. European Animal Research Association, London, United Kingdom.


This submission uses empirical work into the self-reporting performed by institutions - government, private, charity sector - of their use of biomedical research animals. Under EU Directive 2010/63/eu such entities are obliged to publicly acknowledge their experimental work with all vertebrates. Under national law, other key details for disclosure can include the quantity, species and care arrangements of such animals. Some organisations see this as a response to animal rights groups which allege a culture of secrecy; others more fully embrace the ‘transparency' agenda. The paper aims to build on a current/unpublished EARA project, supported by the European Commission, which evaluates and rates the online profiles of a representative sample of organisations using animals in biomedical research - including in basic and veterinary research. The authors have measured the extent to which public-facing websites accurately report on their publishers' use of animals in a clear/accessible fashion. In the process, we consider whether biomedical researchers are addressing the concerns raised in the November 2017 review of EU Directive 2010/63/eu. In its review the European Commission stated that the Directive has introduced elements aimed at improving transparency and openness. It also reported that there has been some progress on transparency but suggested that more was needed. By rigorously evaluating institutions' websites, in terms of, for example, their use of original photography, non-technical case studies and simple online navigation, the presentation would aim to identify the extent to which EU transparency guidelines on animal research transparency are being adhered to across EU Member States. The methodology involves data entry based on six criteria: does the website feature a statement on the use of laboratory animals; can species used or types of research by identified (‘more information'); is there an attempt at, say, community engagement or answering FAQs (‘extensive information'); are images of animals used, especially original ones; are case studies available; could the information provided be considered prominent? When compiled, such data allows for national openness scores. The paper can then consider the overall state of institutional openness in EU animal research, which can be displayed using pie charts and illustrated with ‘good practice' screenshots from various websites. Whereas empirically the paper considers the actual content and presentation of the sites involved, the materials assembled permit discussion of a wider question: namely, to what extent is the desire for openness expressed in the revised EU Directive 2010/63/eu turning transparency into a normative principle linked to biomedical research?

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements