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Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

Photo by Grant Durr


This page will provide access to publications which are directly relevant to the Animal Centered Research Project or which result from it as the project progresses.

Towards an integrated ethical review process: an animal-centered research framework for the refinement of research procedures


The involvement of animals in research procedures that can harm them and to which they are deemed unable to consent raises fundamental ethical dilemmas. While current ethical review processes emphasize the application of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement), grounded in a human-centered utilitarian ethical approach, a comprehensive ethical review also involves a harm-benefit analysis and the consideration of wider ethical issues. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, approaches are still needed to facilitate the integrative assessment and iterative revision of research designs to improve their ethical value or to identify cases in which using animals is irremediably unethical. Additionally, frameworks are lacking that explicitly include an animal-centered perspective into the ethical review process beyond welfare concerns, failing to cover broader ethical considerations (such as consent). In previous work we proposed an Animal-Centered Research framework (ACRf) comprising four animal-centered research principles (relevance, impartiality, welfare and consent) which could help researchers and ethical review bodies apprise research designs from an animal-centered perspective. This paper builds on and further develops our previous work by contextualizing the ACRf within the bigger picture of animal research ethical review and by illustrating how the ACRf could be operationalized within current ethical review processes. We contribute an extended framework that integrates the application of the ACRf principles within the ethical review process. To this end, we present findings from a theoretical case study focusing on the ethical review of a research protocol on the study of stress response in pigs. We discuss how our extended framework could be easily applied to facilitate a holistic approach to the ethical review process, and inform an iterative process of refinement, to support the development of research designs that are both more ethical and scientifically valid.

Nannoni, E., Mancini, C. (2024). Front in Vet. Sci., Vol. 11, Art. 1343735

Relevance, Impartiality, Welfare and Consent: Principles of an Animal-Centered Research Ethics



The principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3Rs) were developed to address the ethical dilemma that arises from the use of animals, without their consent, in procedures that may harm them but that are deemed necessary to achieve a greater good. While aiming to protect animals, the 3Rs are underpinned by a process-centered ethical perspective which regards them as instruments in a scientific apparatus. This paper explores the applicability of an animal-centered ethics to animal research, whereby animals would be regarded as autonomous subjects, legitimate stakeholders in and contributors to a research process, with their own interests and capable of consenting and dissenting to their involvement. This perspective derives from the ethical stance taken within the field of Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI), where researchers acknowledge that an animal-centered approach is essential to ensuring the best research outcomes. We propose the ethical principles of relevance, impartiality, welfare and consent, and a scoring system to help researchers and delegated authorities assess the extent to which a research procedure aligns with them. This could help researchers determine when being involved in research is indeed in an animal’s best interests, when a procedure could be adjusted to increase its ethical standard or when the use of non-animal methods is more urgently advisable. We argue that the proposed principles should complement the 3Rs within an integrated ethical framework that recognizes animals’ autonomy, interests and role, for a more nuanced ethical approach and for supporting the best possible research for the benefit of animal partakers and wider society.

Mancini, C., Nannoni, E. (2022). Front. in Anim, Sci., Vol. 3, Art. 800186

Principles of Biomedical Ethics

Abstract to the 1994 revision

This is an extremely thorough revision of the leading textbook of bioethics. The authors have made many improvements in style, organization, argument and content. These changes reflect advances in the bioethics literature over the past five years. The most dramatic expansions of the text are in the comprehensiveness with which the authors treat different currents in ethical theory and the greater breadth and depth of their discussion of public policy and public health issues. In every chapter, readers will find new material and refinements of old discussions. This is evident in the many new sections on topics like communitarianism, ethics of care, relationship-based accounts, casuistry, case-based reasoning, principle-based common-morality theories, the justification of assistance in dying, rationing through priorities in the health care budget, and virtues in professional roles. The most extensive revisions are in chapters 1, 2 and 8.

Beauchamp, T.L., Childress, J.F. (1989). Oxford University Press

The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique

Foreword to the Special Edition 1992, reissued by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare


In October 1959, Major Charles Hume, Founder of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, presented a paper at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Animal Care Panel 11 in Washington, DC. In this he reported UFAW's recent change of direction from laboratory animal husbandry to the far more controversial topic of experimental techniques.

He was referring to the appointment in 1954 of William Russell, whom he described as a brilliant young zoologist who happened to be also a psychologist and a classical scholar, and Rex Burch, a microbiologist, to inaugurate a systematic study of laboratory techniques in their ethical aspect. This led to publication in 1959 of The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique in which they classified humane techniques under the headings of replacement, reduction, and refinement--now commonly known as the three Rs.

In some ways this elegant classification was 25 years ahead of its time. Nowadays the three Rs are widely used by all responsible scientists and one hardly ever reads or hears a discussion on laboratory animal welfare which does not refer to them.

Hume's reference to a change of direction recalled that earlier, in 1947, UFAW had published its first Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory Animals edited by Professor Alastair Worden. The first chapter of this included a historical note of the adoption in 1871 by the British Association for the Advancement of Science of some basic principles of animal experimentation. This lead via a Royal Commission, to the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 which has only recently been replaced by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The fact that it took over 100 years for new legislation is perhaps an indication of the quality of the drafting, and even more so of the subsequent, effective administration of the 1876 Act.

Meanwhile, UFAW maintains its strong interest in animal husbandry and the 6th edition of the handbook was published in 1987. This was followed in 1990 with production of its award winning video program Environmental Enrichment: Advancing Animal Care. The Federation has also continued to be concerned with research techniques and has published a series of Guidelines on the Care of Laboratory Animals and their Use for Scientific Purposes. These include sections on pain, analgesia and anesthesia; surgical procedures, and the planning and design of experiments. Further sections of the guidelines are to include the use of alternative, i.e. the three Rs, and the legal and ethical aspects of experimentation.

In 1990, the Humane Society of the United States announced its new annual Russell and Burch Award. This is to recognize researchers or educators who have made outstanding contributions towards the advancement of alternative methods in biomedical research, testing, or higher education. In this context alternative methods are considered in the broad sense of replacement, reduction, and refinement as first articulated by Russell and Burch.

It is perhaps appropriate that their book, originally published by Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, reprinted in 1960 by Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, should now be reissued by UFAW. This special edition is a further memorial to Charles Hume and a long overdue tribute to Bill Russell and Rex Burch. It is also a timely recognition of the Russell and Burch Award recently instituted by the Humane Society of the United States.

Over the years, there has been a long standing and influential movement within the scientific community both in Europe and North America to reduce the suffering involved in biomedical research. Although now over 30 years since the first publication, it is important that this original work, which is still relevant today, should be readily available for the new generation of research scientists.

Russell, W.M.S., Burch, R.L. (1959). Methuen & Co. Ltd, London

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