BPS guidelines for the use of animals in research

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Researchers should consider:

Ethics and legislation- if animals are confined, harmed, stressed or in pain then suffering should be minimised.

Species- the chosen species should be the ones least likely to suffer pain or distress. Factors such as whether the animals were bred in captivity, their previous experience of experimentation and the sentience of the species should be considered.

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Researchers should consider:

Number of animals- only the minimum number of animals required that will produce valid and reliable results should be used.

Procedures- in experiments causing death, disease, injury, physiological or psychological distress, reseachers should use a design which enhances the animals experience. Researchers conducting the experiment must hold and comply with a Home Office licence.

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Researchers should consider:

Reward and deprivation- in planning deprivation studies researchers should consider the normal feeding and drinking patterns of the animals e.g young animals need more continuous access to food and drink.

Isolation and crowding- caging conditions should depend on the social behaviour of the animals e.g isolation will be more distressing for social species. Overcrowding can cause distress and aggression leading to physical harm.

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Researchers should consider:

Wild animals- disturbance to free-living animals should be minimised. Using lab bred animals will be better than using wild animals as they will be less distressed by experimental conditions.

Anaesthesia and euthanasia- aniamls should be protected from pain and killed if suffering enduring pain.

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Researchers should consider:

Housing and care- between tests, animals should be housed with enough space to move around and with sufficient food and water. Social companions and a source of cognitive stimulation should be available where appropriate.

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Bateson's cube

Another perspective looks at whether the overall gain is sufficiently valuble. This can be expressed using Bateson's (1986) 'cube'. 

When the certainty of benefit is high, research is good and when suffering is low, the research is worthwhile.

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