Recent studies highlight deficiencies in the design and presentation of animal experiments, which have consequences for the validity of the resulting data. Directive 2010/63/EU means there is now a legal requirement for training in the design of procedures and projects. Good experimental design is one of the most effective ways to reduce and refine animal procedures. Researchers are not gaining essential training in this area. A recent FRAME poster presented at the FELASA 2016 Congress summarises this important issue. Click here to download.

Under the requirements of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, researchers must be trained and competent in the requirements of replacement, reduction and refinement and, in design of procedures and projects, where appropriate. Despite this, recent studies such as

[1] and [2] have shown that there are significant problems with how animal experiments are designed and reported. These deficiencies can lead to strong bias and negatively impact the validity and rigour of the findings, which in turn raises ethical questions about the appropriateness of the use of animals. This recent literature highlights an important issue that needs much more attention to ensure the numbers of animals in experiments are reduced and that those experiments that unavoidably (at present) use animals provide rigorous high quality results. It also identifies problems with regard to publishing information on experiments and the way research is assessed. FRAME believes scientists are not necessarily receiving adequate training in experimental design to enable them to identify these problems both when designing experiments and when reviewing them.

Good experimental design is one of the most effective and immediate ways to reduce and refine animal procedures, but researchers are not getting sufficient training in this essential area for completing ethical, rigorous and efficient research [3]. Having developed and delivered training in experimental design and statistics it is clear that demand for such courses is high and that skills need improving. Pre and post-course testing indicate that even basic principles are not always understood. Participants report being exposed to new knowledge and show an improvement in their knowledge.

For information on the latest Training School click here.


1. Macleod MR, Lawson McLean A, Kyriakopoulou A, et al. (2015) Risk of Bias in Reports of In Vivo Research: A Focus for Improvement. PLoS Biol 13(10): e1002273. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002273. pmid:26460723
2. Kilkenny C, Parsons N, Kadyszewski E, et al. (2009) Survey of the quality of experimental design, statistical analysis and reporting of research using animals. PLoS One 4(11):e7824. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007824. pmid:19956596.
3. Howard B, Hudson M and Preziosi R. (2009) More is less: Reducing animal use by raising awareness of the principles of efficient study design and analysis. ATLA 37, 33–42.