Harms and benefits of research

The philosophy of animal research has not been the only area of contention – there is some debate on the scientific merit of research.  Scientists who carry out research explain that they cannot attain their results any other way – they also point to the huge number of medical treatments available thanks to animal research. Furthermore, nearly every Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has also been reliant on the use of animals in research.

Nonetheless, a small number of scientists reject the scientific argument for animal research. Their argument is two-fold. Firstly, that medical development can be continued without the use of animals – using alternative, non-animal methods. Secondly, they claim that the differences between humans and other animals mean that scientists cannot meaningfully translate the research from one species to another.


Animal Testing: Issues and Ethics (Stephanie Watson) is a book aimed at students which looks over some of the scientific and philosophical arguments for and against animal research. 
- Watson, S., 2009. Animal Testing: Issues and Ethics. New York: Rosen Publishing Group.

Online resources

Medical Advances and Animal Research (RDS & CMP) is an excellent booklet outlining the role of animals in many of the medical developments we see around us. It provides full references to the scientific literature it mentions throughout. 
- Research Defence Society & Coalition for Medical Progress, 2007. Medical Advances and Animal Research: The Contribution of Animal Science to the Medical Revolution: Some Case Histories. London: RDS. [online] Available at: https://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/media-library/download/document/64/

Experimenting on animals (BBC) provides an impartial overview of the arguments for and against animal research. It covers, briefly, both the science and ethics, as well as some of the regulations involved. 
- BBC. Experimenting on animals. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/experiments_1.shtml

What have guinea pigs ever done for us? (Vivienne Parry) – This Guardian article discusses a list of 10 major medical milestones and looks at why animals were involved for each one. 
- Parry, V., 2005. What have guinea pigs ever done for us? The Guardian, [online] 1 September. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/sep/01/medicalresearch.health

Where do Medicines Comes From? (UAR) is a pamphlet which summarises the drug development process and the role of animals in that process. 
- Understanding Animal Research, 2011. Where Do Medicines Come From? [online] Available at:


Animal Experimentation – Indispensable or Indefensible? (SCT) is a lengthy debate on animal research between Michelle Thew (against), director of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, and Tom Holder, founder of Speaking of Research (for). It covers issues of both science and ethics. 
- Speakers’ Corner Trust, 2012. Animal Experimentation – Indispensable or Indefensible? [online] Available at: http://www.speakerscornertrust.org/6342/animal-experimentation-indispensable-or-indefensible/

Animal Research: Lectures and Articles (AR.info) provides a selection of lectures written by a multitude of scientists on the subject of animal research. Most are about animal research and its role in fighting a specific disease, others are more general. 
- AnimalResearch.Info. Articles & Lectures. [online] Available at: http://www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/articles-lectures/

Debates: This House Would Ban Animal Testing (IDEA) provides an overview of arguments for and against animal research that could be used in a debate or argument. 
- IDEA. Debates: This House Would Ban Animal Testing. [online] Available at: http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/science-technology/house-would-ban-animal-testing

Understanding Animal Research: Human Health (UAR) provides a summary of different diseases, and the animal research which has led to new treatments. Look at the links on the left for more information on each disease. 
- Understanding Animal Research. Human Health. [online] Available at: https://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/why/human-health

Review of Cost-Benefit Assessment in the Use of Animals in Research (APC) is an independent review of the costs and benefits of animal research. While this is a long document, many people will be interested in focusing on the Introduction (chapter 1) and the conclusion (chapter 6). 
- Animal Procedures Committee, 2003. Review of Cost-Benefit Assessment in the use of Animals in Research. [online] Available at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/agencies-public-bodies/apc/cost-benefit-assessment?view=Binary

Speaking of Research: Bad Science (SR) assesses 18 claims by animal rights groups about the science of animal research and attempts to evaluate the science behind them. Much time is spent looking at whether research can translate between animals and humans. 
- Speaking of Research. Bad Science. [online] Available at: http://speakingofresearch.com/extremism-undone/bad-science/

The ethics of research involving animals: a guide to the report (Nuffield Council on Bioethics) is an independent report on the use of animals for medical science. This short report is a brief summary of the much longer report. 
- Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 2006. The ethics of research involving animals: a guide to the report. [online] London: Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Available at:


For and against: Animal Testing (Bella Williams & Alistair Currie) is a newspaper debate between Dr Bella Williams from Understanding  Animal Research and Alistair Currie from PETA. It primarily focuses on the scientific arguments for and against animal research 
- Williams B. and Currie A., 2012. For and against: Animal Testing. Manchester Evening News. [online] 28 August. Available at: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/for-and-against-animal-testing-693965

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