UK funding bodies urge universities to improve the design and reporting of animal research

The heads of the three main funding bodies for bioscience research in the UK have today written an open letter to the vice-chancellors and principals of universities and heads of research institutes, urging them to ensure that their scientists observe guidelines designed to improve the reporting of animal research.

The Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have all signed up to the ARRIVE guidelines, which were developed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

Previous studies, by the NC3Rs and others, have highlighted significant flaws in the design, analysis and reporting of animal experiments, which undermine the reliability and utility of the research conducted. The ARRIVE guidelines are intended to help address this.

The guidelines include a checklist of information that should be included in scientific publications describing animal research and have already been adopted by close to 100 journals. The UK funders are committed to high standards in the research that they sponsor, and this latest move is intended to reinforce the importance of ensuring that animal studies are properly designed, analysed and reported so that the information obtained fully contributes to the knowledge base.

Dr Vicky Robinson, the NC3Rs' chief executive, said: "The open letter from the bioscience community's big hitters will serve as a useful reminder that there is an expectation that scientists will use the ARRIVE guidelines and this can only be good news in terms of ensuring that animal studies are better designed, analysed and reported."