Developing a Collaborative Agenda for Humanities and Social Scientific Research on Laboratory Animal Science and Welfare

Author: 
Davies GF, Greenhough BJ, Hobson-West P, Kirk RGW, Applebee K, Bellingan LC, et al.
Publication date: 
July, 2016

The LASSH (Laboratory Animals in the Social Sciences and Humanities) network was established in 2014, with support from the Wellcome Trust and the University of Exeter. The aims of this interdisciplinary and international network were to:

  • bring perspectives from the humanities and social sciences into dialogue with practitioners and stakeholders across laboratory animal science and welfare,
  • define significant research questions exploring the historical developments, current practices and future challenges in animal research, and
  • develop collaborative ways of working to address them.

We published our collaborative agenda for future humanities and social scientific research on laboratory animal science and welfare in PLOS ONE in July 2016. This paper and approach was featured in the Times Higher Education article “These are the questions we should be asking about animal research” on 21 July 2016.

The LASSH network organised a workshop to facilitate cross-disciplinary exchange and develop a collaborative agenda for future research on laboratory animal science and welfare. Our article summarises the outcomes, which indicate a demand for new research in the humanities and social sciences to inform emerging discussions and priorities on the governance and practice of laboratory animal research, including on issues around:

  • Changing contexts in science and policy (e.g. open science, international harmonization and translational research),
  • ‘Cultures of care’ in animal research,
  • Public attitudes and engagement,
  • Harm-benefit analysis and the future of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement).

The process of working together to produce this agenda demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary exchange for improving communication across different research cultures and helped identify ways of enhancing the effectiveness of future research at the interface between the humanities, social sciences, science and science policy.

The LASSH network was organized by Gail Davies, Beth Greenhough, Pru Hobson-West, Rob Kirk, and Elisabeth Ormandy. We are very grateful to everyone who took part in this collaboration. This publication and approach has informed many of the questions and approaches which we are now taking forward in the Animal Research Nexus Wellcome Collaborative Award.

The LASSH network is no longer running as we focus on the current Animal Research Nexus Project. Please get in touch with the organizers if you would like any further information about past or potential future activities.