Good experimental design and statistics can save animals, but how can it be promoted?
ATLA, 32(Suppl. 1), 133–135 (2004).
Surveys of published papers show that there are many errors both in the design of the experiments and in the statistical analysis of the resulting data. This must result in a waste of animals and scientific resources, and it is surely unethical. Scientific quality might be improved, to some extent, by journal editors, but they are constrained by lack of statistical referees and inadequate statistical training of those referees that they do use. Other parties, such as welfare regulators, ethical review committees and individual scientists also have an interest in scientific quality, but they do not seem to be well placed to make the required changes. However, those who fund research would have the power to do something if they could be convinced that it is in their best interests to do so. More examples of the way in which better experimental design has led to improved experiments would be helpful in persuading these funding organisations to take further action.