Some institutions have an outreach department which deals with engagement activities for the whole universities with local schools. After the concordat this department has taken over also engagement activities including openness on animal research done at the institution.
Open days are a common events but many experience problems for biological barriers and animal welfare. A successful story is recreating an animal facility in an open space in the campus where everybody could engage in activities and games to learn and understand more about animal welfare and animal research at the institutions. The event included also posters on 3Rs and Openness and have a feedback wall for the visitors which was then used to report to the AWERB and the senior management.
Recognition is important for people involved in openness engaging activities (mainly technicians and researchers) however a reward in terms of money/vouchers for the extra time is a problem for small organisations. Ideas about this were personal recognition mail sent from the AWERB to the persons collaborating to outreach event on openness.
Other initiatives were videos, virtual tours and video blog of the head of the school visiting the facility and talking about openness on animal research at the institution. This video blog was open to all students and staff of the institution.
Again, open days of the university featuring a corner dedicated to animal facility with techs talking about animal welfare and work done (again with cages, bedding, diets etc.). Presentation at festivals of research and other events such to engage the campus on openness and promote knowledge of animal research activity happening.
Some institutions have all the new staff starters informed about the presence of animal research units and openness at the induction (this include secretaries, students, HR, finance, lecturers etc.).
The issue about being open about animal research was also raised whenever external staff/contractors are coming to work in the unit (ex. engineers, technicians for equipment etc.), an idea was providing them a leaflet beforehand to inform them about animal research in the facility.
Finally we steered the topic to a tricky question, how do you measure the impact of the concordat of openness on your institution?
We talked about the FOI numbers of requests, but this doesn’t seem a reliable data. We talked about the number of articles/programmes on the media on research involving animals and their approach. We talked about the commitments and all the things done from all the institutions each year (rise, decrease?).
We wondered if having a measure of the benefits for signing up and for the different activities could help to deal with moment of “crisis” and react in a better way.