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Compatibility with science: AWERB members

Mouse with head popping out of hole in cardboard mouse house © RSPCA

It is increasingly widely accepted that ‘better welfare equals better science’. Researchers may have concerns that any changes to existing protocols or animal husbandry and care procedures could have a negative impact on their research. However, the default assumption should be that refinement will improve data quality, because experimental confounds caused by animals’ physiological and behavioural responses when they attempt to cope with unrelieved discomfort, pain, anxiety or boredom have been removed. Researchers should always be able to explain and justify their scientific reasons for not implementing refinement.

If there are any legitimate concerns about the impact of refinement on the science, it should be possible to conduct a literature search, and/or conduct a pilot study, to see whether there is a genuine case for withholding refinements such as environmental enrichment, analgesia or more humane endpoints. The researcher should be able to provide evidence of these.

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