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NC3Rs calls for better animal test reporting

ratThe NC3Rs has issued a statement calling for better reporting of animal tests in order to improve the information they reveal and to avoid unnecessary repetition of some experiments on animals.


It says full and proper reporting supports more effective systematic reviews, which in turn lead to better design and conduct of future experiments.


The statement says:


Better reporting of animal tests needed to maximise their benefits

Poor reporting of animal experiments can limit their value in providing robust evidence to inform future studies and the wider knowledge base. Dr Nathalie Percie du Sert from the UK Government funded National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), writing in the current (October) issue of European Heart Journal calls for more rigorous reporting when the results of animal experiments are published to enable and improve systematic reviews.

A systematic review is an evaluation of the literature which identifies and appraises studies relevant to a specific research question. They are commonplace in clinical research but are not widely used in the analysis of animal studies, partly because of the poor reporting of animal experiments. The NC3Rs has previously reviewed the quality of reporting of animal experiments, highlighting areas where significant improvement could be made, including greater information on the design and conduct of studies.

Poor reporting restricts the utility of systematic reviews because it prevents a rigorous quality assessment of the studies included in such reviews and limits opportunities to get more information from the data available. If information such as the sex, age and strain of animals used, or how treatments are given, is not included, then it is impossible to evaluate the impact of these factors and this ultimately can give misleading conclusions. For example, a treatment may affect males and females differently or have different adverse effects in young and old animals.

To improve the reporting of animal experiments the NC3Rs has published guidelines called ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) which describe the minimum information that should be included in a manuscript, ensuring that studies are reported in a clear and comprehensive manner, reflecting the study design, conduct and analysis. The guidelines have been adopted by a range of bioscience journals and the UK’s major research funders.

Dr Percie du Sert said “Sixty two journals have already endorsed the guidelines we have published to improve the reporting of animal experiments; their widespread adoption is essential for raising the quality of animal research, enabling better retrospective analysis of studies and ultimately maximising translation for human benefit.”