Animal research and media relations
Animal experiments are a necessary and vital aspect of medical research, but involve ethical choices that invite discussion and engage people both inside and outside KI. All our communication on animal research is guided by the concepts of transparency, accessibility and fact-based reasoning.
- We are open about the fact that we conduct experiments on animals at KI and why we do it.
- We give examples of research projects, the procedures they involve and why they have to use animals.
- We give general details of species and numbers. The use of animals varies over time by species, so no exact and current figures can be provided. KI is required to report its animal use to the Swedish Board of Agriculture, which compiles the statistics.
- We give general information about the rules for ethical permits, drugs tests and the like on KI’s external and internal websites, and otherwise refer people to the relevant authority for more detailed information.
- For security reasons, we do not disclose people’s names and details of our animal facilities.
Animal research spokespersons
Official spokespersons for KI on matters relating to animal research are the head of operations at Comparative Medicine (KM) and the Deputy Vice-President of Research (former Dean), and for certain issues the University Director. Spokespersons for specific issues relating to primate research at the Astrid Fagræus Laboratory (AFL) are the director and/or local veterinary surgeon.
Individual employees can always exercise their statutory right to communicate, but must make clear to themselves and others the capacity in which they speak – e.g. as a co-author of a scientific article, a research group leader or animal facility manager – and follow the rules applying to public access and secrecy.
Employees are never obliged to comment on animal issues and can always refer inquiries to the appointed spokespersons at KI or to a press officer, who will pass the matter on to the relevant spokespersons.
Press releases and popular science texts
KI looks favourably on animal experiments being placed in a context that explains the benefit of such experiments in a neutral, objective manner. In order to properly interpret the importance of certain research outcomes, it is also important to know the methods used. Press releases, news or other types of popular science text dealing with animal experiments should make it explicit that such is the case.
It is also protocol for the Press Office to write what kind of animal was used in the research we publicise to journalists and on the KI website. If you feel unsure about any aspect of communicating animal testing, do not hesitate to raise the issue with the press officers.
Generally we do not allow the taking of photographs or films during visits to our animal facilities by school classes and other such groups. Exemptions can, however, be made on request from the media if the photographing or filming of experimental animals is related to a specific research project and accurately reflects the context. The taking of photographs or films is not encouraged if the intention is to depict animal testing in general without relation to a specific project at KI.
The following applies for visiting journalists:
- If a journalist asks permission to photograph/film, press officers, the relevant researcher, the head of department and the head of operations at KM must be contacted so that they can together judge the appropriateness of the request and give permission.
- Approval from the animal facility manager should be obtained. The manager is responsible for safety concerning risk of infection, all participating staff and for ensuring that no one is disrupted in their work. He/she or delegated staff must be present during the photographing/filming.
- Remember to remove/cover staff lists, nameplates and the like that can come into in shot and, unintentionally on behalf of the reporter, reveal information that for security reasons should not be made public.
The above information has been adapted from an internal document titled “Interna riktlinjer och anvisningar för kommunikation om djurförsök” (ref.no. 1-410/2016).