Exploring the constructions of transparency, animal sentience and culture of care in animal research

Cantrell, J (2022) Exploring the constructions of transparency, animal sentience and culture of care in animal research. MRes thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Animal research remains an important part of science with 2.88 million procedures being carried in 2019 in the UK. Although the number of animals used is declining each year, this is still a significant level of animal use at a time when our understanding of animal sentience is ever increasing. This research work explores the construction of important issues such as open science, animal sentience and culture of care and how these are potentially being seen in terms of animal research ethics responsibilities. Through the lens of empirical ethics, this study explores various actors’ awareness and construction of animal sentience, transparency in reporting standards, and perceptions of a culture of care. Previous studies have focused on these, though little research has been done to examine how institutions respond to the transparency agenda and then link this to researchers’ views of animal sentience and culture of care. This study is being conducted at an important time when the UK government has asked for a public policy review of the current standing on animal usage in research and alongside the introduction of new UK animal welfare legislation which formal recognises animals as sentient.

This study comprises of three empirical research streams focusing on an analysis of institutions compliance with the UK Concordat on Openness in Animal Research. The first of which is the assessment of outwards facing animal research information on university webpages. Secondly, an institutional survey targeting university animal research contact points and finally, a survey of researchers within a research network were completed. A thematic analysis was conducted on these data to draw out key themes prevalent across the responses.

This work has identified that although there is overall compliance with a number of the core elements of the Concordat, for the majority of the institutes examined, there are still a number of gaps and areas of improvement that the research community should address. For example, clarification and potential standardisation of the definition of the concept of sentience, aiding in translatability. The league table generated in order to allow for comparison between research intensive universities could be used to evaluate compliance to the Concordat and even published to encourage a comparative spirit that may foster improvements and drive transparency across the sector. Perspectives provided by the researchers also indicated a desire to see improvements in overall animal care as well as specific aspects such as animal monitoring technologies. Further work should be done to explore more in-depth perspectives of these important ethical concepts as this may support further reflection on ethical responsibilities and improvements in animal use in experimentation.

The recommendations from this study represent small changes in what will continue to be a long path, which should see gradual but sustained advancement and improvement in animal experimentation practice and policies.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (MRes)
Supervisors: Millar, K
Hudson-Shore, M
Keywords: Animal research, Ethics, Care, Sentience
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history. Biology > QH301 Biology (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences
Item ID: 69156
Depositing User: Cantrell, Joshua
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 04:40
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/69156

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