What is the Concordat on Openness?
The Concordat on Openness is a set of commitments for UK-based life science organisations to enhance their communication about their use of animals in research. The Concordat encourages best practice when engaging with the public about animal research. To read more information about the Concordat, how it was developed, and what signatories are doing to be more open, please visit the About area.
How many organisations have signed the Concordat on Openness?
The Concordat currently has 123 signatories, including universities, medical research charities, commercial companies, research councils and funders, umbrella bodies and learned societies from across the UK life science sector. To see which organisations have signed the Concordat, please visit the List of Signatories area.
Why do we need a Concordat on Openness?
There are many misconceptions surrounding animal research, due to the historic culture of secrecy, and the misleading nature of some communications. When Understanding Animal Research commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a public dialogue in April 2013, it was clear that people were supportive of more open and transparent communications on the use of animals in research. The Concordat, launched on 14th May 2014 by Understanding Animal Research, was created from this dialogue and commits signatories to enhance their communications on animal research, providing more and better information to the public.. To read more information about the Concordat, please visit the About area. You can also read the report from the public dialogue in the Resources area.
Who runs the Concordat on Openness?
The Concordat is administered by Understanding Animal Research, on behalf of all signatory organisations. It is overseen by a Steering Group of independent experts, whose composition can be found in the About area. Each year the Steering Group decide the direction of the Concordat based on feedback from the signatory organisations.
How can my organisation sign the Concordat on Openness?
Signing the Concordat is a really simple process. To initiate it, all we need is an email stating that your organisation would like to sign up. To find out more please get in touch via the Contact Us section.
What are the minimum requirements for signing the Concordat on Openness?
To sign the Concordat your organisation must be based in the UK and be involved with animal research. This includes conducting or funding animal research, or supporting your members that conduct or fund animal research. Currently, non-UK based organisations may sign the Concordat so long as they have an animal research facility based in the UK. We are looking to provide support with openness for non-UK organisations in the near future. If you would like to learn more please Contact Us.
Before signing the Concordat your organisation will need a public facing position statement on its website. Examples can be seen in the List of Signatories area. If you would like advice on how to create a position statement please get in touch via the Contact Us area.
Are there any costs associated with signing the Concordat on Openness?
Signing the Concordat is free of charge for organisations that are members of Understanding Animal Research. For non-member organisations, an annual fee of £200 + VAT is associated with signing the Concordat. This gives Understanding Animal Research a budget to organise Concordat related events and signatory organisation visits. The fee is not meant to be restrictive so if you are a small organisation interested in signing, please don’t let this put you off.
If you would like to find out how your organisation can become a member of Understanding Animal Research, please get in touch via the Contact Us area.
What are the benefits of signing the Concordat on Openness?
Signing the Concordat lets the public know that your organisation is committed to being open about its animal research. The Concordat has fostered a supportive community within the UK life science sector that encourages best practice when communicating about animal research. This has led to a greater understanding and acceptance of this particular area of research.
Signatory organisations are invited to two events throughout the year. In May, the Concordat’s anniversary, a networking event is organised to give signatory representatives the opportunity to discuss their openness activities. In December, to coincide with the Stephen Paget Memorial Lecture, the Openness Awards celebrate the achievements of the signatories over the previous 12 months. To read more about the awards, please visit the Openness Awards section.
Can we promote the fact our organisations has signed the Concordat on Openness?
Absolutely! We encourage signatories to promote the fact they have signed up, whether this is in the form of press releases, all-staff communications, website statements, or social media. Talking about the Concordat helps the public to find out about animal research in the UK and what organisations are doing to promote it. Check out the #ConcordatOpenness hashtag on Twitter for more information.
How can I read about the Concordat on Openness’ progress?
Understanding Animal Research publishes an annual Concordat report detailing what signatories have done, over the previous 12 months, to enhance their animal research communications. The reports can be viewed and downloaded in the Resources area. If you would like to request physical copies of the annual reports please get in touch via the Contact Us area.
How are Concordat on Openness signatories held accountable?
Signatory organisations must have a clear animal research position statement on their website. The statement should be kept updated and be in an easily accessible part of the website. Signatories are encouraged to go beyond the minimum standard and create specific webpages about the animal research they conduct, fund, or support. Signatories are also required to report to Understanding Animal Research every year, detailing how they have enhanced their animal research communications over the previous 12 months. Understanding Animal Research and the Steering Group produce a report, which is published every December, recommending best practices. The Steering Group has the ability to remove an organisation from the list of signatories if they are not meeting the commitments set out in the Concordat.
The Concordat on Openness is a voluntary commitment to provide transparent communications around the use of animals in research. It endorses the principles of the 3Rs and expects high standards of animal welfare from signatories; however, the Concordat does not enforce animal welfare practices or replace legislation on the ethical use of laboratory animals.
Does a Concordat on Openness exist for non-UK based organisations?
Presently, the Concordat on Openness is only open to UK based organisations; however the European Animal Research Association (EARA) has developed a number of openness statements and transparency agreements in other European countries.
The Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain (Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España) is a collaborative project by EARA and the Spanish Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE). Inspired by the Concordat in the UK, the Transparency Agreement has now been signed by 130 institutions and contains four commitments for research centres in Spain to provide more information about animal research at their institutions.
In 2018, the first report on the Spanish biomedical sector’s commitment to be more transparent about its research using animals was published, highlighting the progress being made to improve openness.
Meanwhile in Belgium, in 2016, 24 universities, pharmaceutical companies, and research institutes published a statement in support of animal research. Together, they showed that they stand for open and transparent communication about animal research.
In Portugal, in 2018, EARA co-ordinated with 16 institutions on a transparency declaration (Acordo de Transparêncáa sobre Investigação Animal em Portugal) on animal research.