Caught on Camera: On the Need of Responsible Use of Video Observation for Animal Behavior and Welfare Research

Mona Giersberg*, Franck Meijboom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Video analysis is a popular and frequently used tool in animal behavior and welfare research. In addition to the actual object of research, video recordings often provide unforeseen information about the progress of the study, the animals or the people involved. Conflicts can arise when this information is weighed against the original intention of the recordings and broader social expectations. Uncertainty may prevent the video observers, often less experienced researchers, to properly address these conflicts, which can pose a threat to animal welfare and research quality and integrity. In this article, we aim to raise awareness of the interrelationship of variables characteristic for video-based animal studies and the potential conflicts emerging from this. We propose stepping stones for a framework which enables a culture of openness in dealing with unexpected and unintended events observed during video analysis. As a basis, a frame of reference regarding privacy and duty of care toward animals should be created and shared with all persons involved. At this stage, expectations and responsibilities need to be made explicit. During running and reporting of the study, the risk of animal welfare and research integrity issues can be mitigated by making conflicts discussible and offering realistic opportunities on how to deal with them. A practice which is outlined and guided by conversation will prevent a mere compliance-based approach centered on checklists and decision trees. Based on these stepping stones, educational material can be produced to foster reflection, co-creation and application of ethical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number864677
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2022


  • animal study
  • co-creation
  • participatory approach
  • privacy
  • research integrity
  • video


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