Last week, I attended Stempra’s event about openness to animal research at the Academy of Medical Sciences. It was really interesting finding out how institutions have improved their animal research communications, and what they’ve got planned for the future.
Wendy Jarrett, CEO of Understanding Animal Research
Craig Brierley, Head of Research Communications at the University of Cambridge
Carmel Turner, Chief Press Officer at the Medical Research Council
Natasha Martineau, Head of Research Communications at Imperial College London.
Here’s 6 things I learnt about how institutions can be open about animal research :
- Communicate to the breadth of the community in your institution
Talk to researchers, staff, and students! Communicate using different mediums, for example include an article about the use of animals in the student newsletter, and state when animals are used in research to encourage conversation.
Or even better- give them a tour, show them around your facilities!
- Give your staff confidence to talk about animal research
Talk to technicians, researchers, and provide media training to ensure you have a range of spokespeople who are well trained to answer questions from the media should a situation arise.
- Make sure your external communications are up to scratch
Create web pages dedicated to the animal research undertaken in your institution.
State in news articles that the research used animals, tag news articles with ‘animal research’ to find other animal research easily, and include a real photo of the animal if possible.
- Don’t forget to mention it at events
Don’t be shy to include activities about animal research at your institution’s events, for example, at ImpFest at Imperial college London had a whole stall around how the University uses animal in research.
- Get your facts straight
“Every big medical advance has used animal research, but every big dead end has too!” Wise words from Carmel, be careful what you say in the press, avoid hype!
- Read up, sign up!
The Concordat on Openness to Animal Research in the UK was launched in May 2014 and is a voluntary code of practice which sits alongside any legislative requirements, and encourages more transparent communications practices around the use of animals in research. Read more on Understanding Animal Research’s website.