Advancing Refinement Through Training: Is There a Role for Reflective Practice?
In the fifty years since the publication of Russell and Burch’s The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, considerable progress has been made implementing the Three Rs in scientific research which involves the use of animals. However, there are still many areas where refinements are slow to be introduced, which may be due in part to a lack of knowledge by the experimenter. Information retrieval is increasingly difficult in the modern age, and there is information overload. This is combined with a fear of confounding the science by changing methods, as well as a natural instinct to defend one’s methods from criticism by others. To overcome this, it is necessary for scientists to receive training in best practice throughout their careers, not just at the beginning, and to be encouraged to be actively self-critical, by evaluating their own techniques and methods and seeking to introduce refinements. Reflective practice is increasingly used in professional training programmes, and could encourage scientists to take the first step toward implementing refinements.