Utrecht University: Symposium: Better animal research through Open Science

Open Science means that scientists openly share their research methods, data and outcomes, both with colleagues and with society. This movement is on the rise, but it is still far from self-evident.

Scientists can have different reasons for not sharing information about animal research: They don’t want others to run off with their ideas, they don’t want to feed criticism of animal use, or an experiment hasn’t produced any noticeable results. However, in animal experiments, it is even more important to be open. Openness promotes collaboration and prevents that research is duplicated because people are not aware of each other’s work. It can concretely reduce the number of laboratory animals used.

Sharing animals, tissues and work protocols
Sharing the study design beforehand on preclinicaltrials.eu, for example, helps researchers to find related work in progress, and therefore offers opportunities for early collaboration. Another interesting platform is ATEX, where scientists can offer or request surplus laboratory animals or tissues from laboratory animals. This prevents animals from being bred or ordered in one lab, while animals are killed or tissues are discarded in another lab. ATEX is in a pilot phase within Utrecht and will be expanded.


During the symposium speakers will talk about different stages of animal studies, how Open Science applies to each of them, and how this benefits research and society, including human and animal patients, and laboratory animals.

After an introduction by Frank Miedema, Vice Rector of Research and Chair of the Utrecht University Open Science Programme, there will be a keynote talk by Jeroen Geurts, President of ZonMw, about how they as funders apply Open Science principles.

Next, there will be pitches and workshops about the following topics corresponding to the successive research phases:

PREPARE – Prepare your research with PREPARE external linkguidelines
INFORM – Write a clear Non-Technical Summary external link
DESIGN – Write your work protocols based on perfect Experimental Design
PLAN – Make a Data Management Plan and set up version-control software
PREREGISTER – Preregister on preclinicaltrials.eu external link
CONNECT – Engage in conversation with journalist and the public
EXCHANGE – Share surplus animals and tissues on ATEX.uu.nl
SHARE – Share your data and open up your code
ARRIVE – Report according to ARRIVE external linkguidelines
PUBLISH – Publish, whatever the outcome
The symposium is aimed at researchers and professionals involved in animal research and the protection of animals used in science (Utrecht-based and broader). Anyone who is interested is very welcome. It will be held in English.

At the beginning of this year, Utrecht University published a new vision on Recognition and Rewards as part of the Open Science programme.

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