How to Design Experiments in Animal Behaviour

16. Cutting-Edge Research at Trifling Cost


I have had multiple aims in writing this series of articles. My primary aim has been to show how simple and innovative experiments can be performed at almost no cost, by nearly anyone, to create significant new knowledge. The history of science shows that this is true in most areas of scientific research, albeit to varying degrees. I have focussed on the field of animal behaviour both because I am more familiar with this field than others, but also because, the field of animal behaviour is especially well-suited for such low-cost research. It has also been my aim, of course, to discuss the principles of ethology (the scientific study of animal behaviour), through the medium of these experiments. My motivation in writing this series is to bring social prestige to low-cost research, make the practice of science more inclusive and democratic, and empower large numbers of people to become knowledge producers rather than merely remain knowledge consumers. The people I especially have in mind are, less-endowed sections of society, including, but not restricted to, underdeveloped countries, marginalised institutions and individuals, students, the general public, amateurs, and all those with little or no access to large research grants and sophisticated laboratory facilities, for whatever reason

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I thank my editor T N C Vidya for her encouragement, patience and sound advice throughout this series.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Raghavendra Gadagkar.

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Raghavendra Gadagkar is DST Year of Science Chair Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Honorary Professor at JNCASR, and Non-Resident Permanent Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study), Berlin. During the past 40 years he has established an active school of research in the area of animal behaviour, ecology and evolution. Understanding the origin and evolution of cooperation in animals, especially in social insects, such as ants, bees and wasps, is a major goal of his research.


Some passages in this article are reprinted from Suggested Readings [4, 5, 15 and 16].

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Gadagkar, R. How to Design Experiments in Animal Behaviour. Reson 26, 105–125 (2021).

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  • Animal behaviour
  • low-cost research
  • science funding
  • grant-free research
  • democratizing science
  • diversity in science