RSPCA paper on journal policies for use of animals in research

The UK animal welfare charity, the RSCPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), campaigns among other issues on the use of animals in medical research. A recent article in the The American Journal of Bioethics reports the results of a study assessing the editorial policies of a random sample of 288 English language peer-reviewed journals that published original research between July 2005 and June 2006 involving the use of animals. The article scored editorial policies publishing using a scoring scheme, which included the following criteria:

  • Mentioning the use of animals in research and testing,
  • Referring the author(s) to national or international guidelines, codes of conduct or legislation relating to research involving animals,
  • Making adherence to the policy a condition of publication,
  • A specific statement on the research the journal is prepared/not prepared to publish
  • The presence or not of specific statements on for example, housing policies.

The highest possible score was 12.

The results are not encouraging. According to the authors,no relevant information could be found for 52 of the journals and 83 did not have any relevant editorial policiesand so scored 0 points. A further 42 journals scored only 1 point. The the highest score achieved was 9, and this was achieved by only 1 journal.

As the authors conclude “The results demonstrate that a significant proportion of journals publishing original research involving animals do not have any editorial policy relating to the use of animals. Of those journals that do have policies the majority simply request that the research be carried out in accordance with standard regulatory requirements.”