Martinsen S, Jukes N. An ethical scoring system for the production and assessment of alternatives in education and training. Paper presented at: The Three Rs - Together it's possible. 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences; 2011 Aug 21-25; Montreal, Canada


Assessment of non-animal alternative tools in education and training is a process that must address a range of pedagogical, ethical, environmental and economic issues. Within the ethical field, criteria include whether and how animals were used in the production process, broader ethical issues presented by content and design, and potential for replacement of harmful animal use. To encourage humane production of alternatives and to facilitate assessment and implementation, InterNICHE has developed an ethical scoring system that forms part of a comprehensive review and assessment process. The potential for international implementation and associated widespread replacement is scored through judging an alternative’s ability to meet and exceed the teaching objectives of a conventional practical class, and its accessibility, opportunities for translation and other criteria. The pedagogical and training aims of an alternative, with both explicit lessons and implicit messages, also play a role in the scoring, with alternatives developed for acquisition of knowledge and skills for the purpose of animal care scoring higher than those for the purpose of animal experimentation. When an alternative reflects progressive teaching approaches and technological innovation, and when holistic representations rather than instrumental use of animals are made, it also scores higher. In the production of video and software alternatives for anatomy practical classes, the use of animal cadavers that are ethically sourced according to the InterNICHE Policy on Alternatives and Animal Use in Education and Training would contribute to a higher score than a product that used killed animals. The use within physiology and pharmacology software of existing data or mathematical algorithms rather than data derived from new animal experiments would also contribute to a higher score. Examples of the process of ethical scoring for a number of existing alternatives will be presented, with an exploration of the criteria and their weighting. The process is being applied to alternatives detailed in the InterNICHE book and database ‘from Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse’ (2nd ed.), available and updated on-line at, and is being discussed with producers to improve the nature and quality of new products.

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Link to journal: ALTEX - Alternatives to Animal Experimentation