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Wow, that’s a great example of Openness – I wish my institution could / would do that!

How do you hear about good examples from other institutions?

  • People from different institutions have different experiences of hearing about what’s going on.
  • Often relies on one person within an institution being ‘plugged in’ to what’s going on externally.
  • Communication (externally) can often be 1:1. Depends on people having the right contacts.
  • May be harder if the institution is small and less networked.
  • Examples are often heard about via other (non-Concordat or UAR related) forums e.g. HOLTIF groups.
  • Good examples could be sent to Fiona Fox at the Science Media Centre.

 How could this be improved?

  • Encourage liaison with, and learning from, others.
  • Could set up a ‘mentoring’ scheme where individuals or institutions with good stories to tell and positive experiences of openness, share how they did, and do, this with others who want a bit of guidance and reassurance.
  • Institutions could make more of an effort to try to regularly ‘benchmark’ themselves – to see how what they are doing and achieving compares to others in the sector.

 What examples of openness have you heard about that you might like to do at your institution?

  • Publication of non-technical summaries (NTS) on the institution’s website
  • Making more images available, including of procedures (on website and to the media)
  • Making videos
  • Increased interaction with the press (especially local)
  • Visits to and tours of institutions from ‘friends and families’ of staff; university students, Women’s Institute etc.
  • Case studies of animal use, or how the 3Rs / alternatives have been implemented etc.
  • News stories should mention if and how animals were involved.
  • Having a stand with information on this issue, at science festivals
  • Disseminating information via blogs and Twitter

 What real or perceived difficulties to implementing an openness initiative still exist?

  • Particularly in large multi-national companies, sign off / agreement can require several levels of hoops to go through. This can be especially difficult if the senior management are based in another country.
  • Some barriers to bringing in groups of visitors e.g. health status / barriers – but could instead set up viewing windows or CCTV cameras for people to use to ‘look around’.
  • Often, one vocal scientist against an idea is enough to block it – but younger generation / early career scientists tend to have less reservations.
  • Representative organisations (e.g. those that don’t directly use animals themselves, or those that don’t interact with the public) often find it hard to think of ways to be more ‘open’ – but at the least, some could probably do more to support and encourage their members in this area.
  • Implementing a new openness initiative or strategy often requires funding/resources. Money or people may not be available or it may not be agreed or clear whose budget within an institution it should come from, what we know is that people can click to play here and get money at the same time, and easy way to have an income.
  • It may not be given sufficient priority when there are other competing interests or pressures on time.

How could this be improved?

  • The benefits of being open need to be clearly communicated within an institution.
  • It requires real buy-in from the leadership within an organisation and the right institutional ethos.
  • The Concordat Awards provide valuable recognition for those trying to promote openness and it particularly allows individuals to illustrate to others within their organisation there is a tangible value (e.g. in how the institution is viewed positively externally).
  • Internal awards within an institution also provide useful recognition that this is something that is valued.
  • The AWERB can be a good source of support and oversight for openness initiatives. Some AWERBs have ‘Concordat on Openness’ as a standing agenda item.
  • The new AWERB Hubs Network may provide a further useful opportunity for sharing examples and experiences in this area.
  • Institutions could set up an internal Concordat ‘focus group’ – including AWERB members, scientific staff and animal technologists, members of the communications team etc.
  • The NC3Rs have regional staff members promoting 3Rs developments amongst institutions in their region. They could be encouraged to also help disseminate good examples of openness.

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