Brunt, M. W., Weary, D. M. 2021. Perceptions of laboratory animal facility managers regarding institutional transparency. PLOS ONE 16(7), e0254279.
Institutions that conduct animal research are often obliged to release some information under various legal or regulatory frameworks. However, within an institution, perspectives on sharing information with the broader public are not well documented. Inside animal facilities, managers exist at the interface between the people who conduct animal research and those charged with providing care for those animals. Their perception of transparency may influence their interpretation of the institutional culture of transparency and may also influence others who use these facilities. The objective of our study was to describe perceptions of transparency among animal research facility managers (all working within the same ethical oversight program), and how these perceptions influenced their experiences. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were used to describe perceptions and experiences of 12 facility managers relating to animal research transparency. Four themes emerged from the participant interviews: 1) communication strategies, 2) impact on participant, 3) expectations of transparency, and 4) institutional policies. Similarities and differences regarding perceptions of transparency existed among participants, with notable differences between participants working at university versus hospital campuses. These results illustrate differences in perceptions of transparency within one institutional animal care and use program. We conclude that institutions, regulators and the public should not assume a uniform interpretation of a culture of transparency among managers, and that sustained communication efforts are required to support managers and to allow them to develop shared perspectives.