Measuring Behavior is a multidisciplinary conference, with participants from many different scientific backgrounds. A significant proportion of the delegates study the behavior of animals. Some of those studies are where the animals’ behavior is of interest in itself (e.g. behavioral ecology research or research in improving the welfare of farm animals). In other studies, the animal’s behavior acts as a model for human behaviors, for example in trying to understand diseases with a behavioral component such as autism or Alzheimer’s.
As a forum for improving the methods and techniques of behavioral research, the Measuring Behavior conference organization takes animal welfare seriously. The ethical aspects are of course crucial, but it is also fundamental to good science; the behavioral measurements do not make much sense if the animals being studied are stressed or unable to exhibit their normal range of behaviors.
The scientific program committee has therefore taken a number of steps to promote animal welfare through the MB conferences:
- Osborne et al.  have made recommendations as to what journals and conference proceedings should do to maximize animal welfare. We have altered our submission and review procedures in line with their recommendations to ensure that presentations at the conference are only accepted if the animal welfare (and other ethical aspects) are of a high standard. Our procedures place our Proceedings in the top 10% of journals in respect to Osborne et al.'s ranking .
- An important criterion used by Osborne et al. is that journals and conferences not only publish guideline, but are also prepared to reject submissions that do not meet them. We have rejected presentations on ethical and welfare grounds.
- Most importantly of all, over the years, the methods and techniques presented at the conference have contributed significantly to developments in the field leading to reduction and refinement of the use of animals in research.
- We have instituted a prize for the best paper with respect to enhancing animal welfare. This prize is sponsored by NC3Rs, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research
The usage of animals in biomedical research must be kept to a minimum and animal discomfort should be avoided as much as possible. The conference is committed to improving animal welfare, and we expect to make further improvements and take more initiatives in this area in the future.
1. Osborne NJ, Payne D & Newman M.L. (2009). Journal Editorial Policies, Animal Welfare and the 3Rs. The American Journal of Bioethics 9, 55-59.