Though scientists and researchers work with animals every day in labs, their experiences are rarely acknowledged or studied. We want to change that, by asking you to take io9's anonymous survey of people who work with rodents for science. Here's why we're doing this, and how you can participate.
In the wake of io9's recent article on animal research in the United States, I've spoken with a number of researchers about their experiences with animals in the lab. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of variation in what they've done and how they deal with it. But none of their stories (at least so far) fit the horrific tales of cruelty that come out of animal rights organizations. And yet many of us learn about research on animals from groups like PETA, who advocate for the abolition of all animal research. It's time that the public has access to the other side of the story.
That's why io9 has put together this anonymous survey for anyone who has done or is doing research using rodents. Many scientists and lab workers who are doing research with animals are afraid to talk about it openly because there is so much stigma attached to their work. Often they have conflicted feelings about what they're doing, even while believing strongly that their research is a social and ethical good. In this survey, we want to give scientists, researchers and lab workers a chance to tell the public what it's really like to work with lab animals — the good, the bad, and the ambivalent.
Rodents are one of the most commonly-used animals in research, and yet they fall outside federal regulation in the United States. Often, rodent research is regulated for ethics by local institutional advisory boards called Institutional Care and Animal Use Committees (IACUC), or by the National Institute of Health, which will not provide grant money unless researchers follow their guidelines to lessen the suffering of rodents used in research. But there is no central, federal agency that is gathering statistics on rodent research and regulating it.
Tom Holder, founder of advocacy group Speaking of Research, which promotes accurate information about animal research, told io9 via email that he believes that the use of rodents is going down in labs. But, he added, he can't be sure. "No one tracking it as it is not required data (which I find frustrating)," he wrote. We hope that some of the data we gather can help to fill that gap.
As I said earlier, the study is designed to be as anonymous as you'd like it to be. None of the answers are required, including the "Name" and "Where do you work" fields. If you want to identify yourself, that's fine. But we understand if you don't. You can also choose to take the survey quickly, answering only the "yes/no" questions — these will still provide us with valuable data. Of course, we'd prefer if you'd give us longer answers, but it's not required.
The survey will be open for six weeks, starting today, December 9, 2014. Please share it widely with your colleagues, friends and fellow students.
Needless to say, please do not take the survey unless you have worked with rodents in your research. We'll report back after the survey has closed with what we've found.
Please take the survey here!