In the name of science: animal appellations and best practice


The practice of giving animal research subjects proper names is frowned on by the academic scientific community. While researchers provide a number of reasons for desisting from giving their animal subjects proper names, the most common are that (1) naming leads to anthropomorphising which, in turn, leads to data and results that are unobjective and invalid; and (2) while naming does not necessarily entail some mistake on the researcher’s part, some feature of the research enterprise renders the practice impossible or ill-advised.

Jessica du Toit (Western University, Canada) aimed to assess whether the scientific community’s attitude towards naming animal research subjects is justified. That is, he wishes to consider whether the practice of naming animal research subjects is good or bad for the purposes of scientific research. After reviewing the extant literature, he constructed a list of the main arguments researchers provide for desisting from naming their animal research subjects. He then analysed these arguments, with a view to determining whether they in fact provide good reasons to avoid naming animal research subjects. Read more here.