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Images of laboratory animals – do you know the rules?

The previously unwritten rules on how images of laboratory animals may be used can now be found in print and online.

In the vast majority of cases they are a question of applied research practice and common sense – but now you can also refer to an overview of the current guidelines for the use of images and film of the laboratory animals at Health.

The faculty's animal welfare committee has taken the initiative for the guidelines, which will be available on websites targeted at both employees and students from this week.

"Fortunately, we’ve seen that everyone is good at only using the images in academically relevant situations. Nonetheless, we began drawing up the guidelines after receiving a request from a student association, who had specific questions about the procedure for using images and film of laboratory animals," says the Head of the Laboratory Animal Facilities at Biomedicine Jakob Harslund

As more and more content is shared on social media and online in general, the guidelines are intended to mitigate unfortunate cases where laboratory animals are exhibited in contexts that are not relevant for research.

Two things to remember

Even though the content of the new guidelines is neither revolutionary nor particularly surprising, according to Jakob Harslund there are still two things we need to bear in mind:

"The material must not be kept on private devices – that’s the rule people need reminding about most of all. There are grey areas, where it can for example be difficult to distinguish between a private computer and a work computer - or maybe you use your work phone as a private phone. But the material must be transferred to the secure drive," he says.

The second point on the list of guidelines that may require renewed attention, is that the students' use of images of laboratory animals for academic purposes must be approved by a principal supervisor or group leader before the images can be used.

 "It's clear that students want to use a lot of film and photos in assignments and submissions. This is completely relevant and should simply be approved," explains Jakob Harslund.

"Images can be used incorrectly, or they can be stored unwisely. Each individual is still responsible for ensuring that the images are not, for example, shared with family, friends or the general public, but with the guidelines they’ll be better equipped to avoid doing this," he says.

The guidelines can be found on the Animal Welfare Committee at Health’s website – and you can also read them below.


Guidelines for the use of images of laboratory animals

The purpose of the guidelines for the use of images (photos/video) of laboratory animals is to prevent laboratory animals from being exhibited in contexts which are not relevant for research.

The guidelines are to be followed by employees, PhD students and students who have access to the use of laboratory animals at Health at Aarhus University.

  • There must be a scientific reason for using the images
    Researchers, PhD students and students are allowed to use photos/videos of laboratory animals where this is required for scientific reasons. This can be e.g. in teaching material, the students’ reports, publications and applications to foundations. The students' use of images of laboratory animals for scientific purposes must be approved by the principal supervisor or group leader before the images can be used.
  • Storage
    After use, photos/videos of laboratory animals must be deleted from your work computer, telephone or tablet or transferred to a secure AU unit such as e.g. a shared drive. Photos/videos of laboratory animals must not be stored on your private computer, tablet or smartphone, and may not be shared on websites or social media. Social media is understood as including websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Messenger, TikTok, Snapchat, etc.

  • Student associations
    Student associations may use photos/videos of laboratory animals on their association sites provided that the images have an academic purpose and that these websites are in no way publicly accessible. The student associations must have authorisation from the head of the animal facility to use photos/videos of laboratory animals.   
  • Media and the general public
    The department head and the head of the animal facilities - together with their communication partner - consider any requests from journalists and the media for access to images and recordings of laboratory animals when such requests are received.