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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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“Statistics” is not a Sausage Machine: A Statistician’s Viewpoint and Some Comments on Experimental Design


Rose E. Gaines Das

Any experiment involving the use of animals which is not well-planned, meticulously carried out, and scrupulously analysed, is unethical. Planning, or good experimental design, followed by analysis appropriate for the design, will help to ensure the optimal use of animals. Thus, collaboration between biologist and statistician, especially at the planning and analysis stages, is one of the best ways of achieving an ethical and successful experiment. However, genuine communication is necessary for any collaboration, and this requires time and patience, on the part of both biologist and statistician. Although the three fundamental principles of experimental design, replication, randomisation and local control, are straightforward in theory, there is substantial scope for misunderstanding and misinterpretation in practice. Each experiment presents unique and interacting biological and statistical problems, and both the right design and the correct analysis should be decided on a case-by-case basis.