Research using animals is controversial. To develop sound public outreach and policy about this issue, we need information about both the underlying science and people’s attitudes and knowledge. To identify attitudes toward this subject at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we developed and administered a survey to undergraduate students and faculty. The survey asked respondents about the importance of, their confidence in their knowledge about, and who they trusted to provide information on animal research. Findings indicated attitudes varied by academic discipline, especially among faculty. Faculty in the biological sciences, particularly those who had participated in an animal research project, reported the issue to be most important, and they reported greater confidence in their knowledge about pro and con arguments. Among students, being female, a vegetarian/vegan, or participating in animal research were associated with higher ratings of importance. Confidence in knowledge about regulation and its adequacy was very low across all groups except biological science faculty. Both students and faculty identified university courses and spokespersons to be the most trusted sources of information about animal research. UW-Madison has a long history of openness about animal research, which correlates with the high level of trust by students and faculty. Nevertheless, confidence in knowledge about animal research and its regulation remains limited, and both students and faculty indicated their desire to receive more information from courses and spokespersons. Based on these findings, we argue that providing robust university-wide outreach and course-based content about animal research should be considered an organizational best practice, in particular for colleges and universities.
Sandgren EP, Streiffer R, Dykema J, Assad N, Moberg J (2019) Assessing undergraduate student and faculty views on animal research: What do they know, whom do they trust, and how much do they care? PLoS ONE 14(10): e0223375. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0223375