This paper explores the ethical quandary faced by researchers whose work advocates for non-human animals and whose results conflict with prevalent anthropocentric societal narratives. To problematise the concept of research bias, we qualitatively analyse contemporary political debates surrounding the treatment of animals to ascertain if, how, when, and by whom research can be conducted with scientific integrity whilst advocating for more ethical treatment of other animals. By taking a holistic approach to the issues of bias presented within the remit of human-animal studies (research concerning human-animal relations), this paper firstly addresses the historic ways in which accusations of bias are interwoven within the animal protection movement. We then explore the ongoing ways in which research concerning animal interests are politically targeted due to the threat such research presents to anthropocentric governing policies and societal practices. Finally, we analyse the legitimate causes of bias represented within the emerging field of human-animal studies. Overall, this paper highlights the pitfalls of research that advocates for animals whilst revealing the actual issues of bias that warrant further attention by the academic community.
Recommended CitationHooper, Jes; Aiello, Thomas; Hill, Kristine; Szydlowski, Michelle; and Oxley Heaney, Sarah, Nothing More than ‘Anti-Cull Activists’: Accusations of Bias and the Politics of Research that Advocates for Non-Human Animals, Animal Studies Journal, 12(1), 2023, 70-95.