Better science, less suffering

A strict list of rules for scientists to follow when working with animals has been launched in the journal PLoS Biology

June 30, 2010

Drawn up by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), the 20-point checklist seeks to address the poor reporting of animal experiments in academic journals and research papers.

The centre devised the guidelines after claiming that poor reporting of animal research made it difficult to derive the maximum scientific knowledge from such experiments and risked the unnecessary use of additional animals in the search for firm conclusions.

“Scientists using animals in their research, particularly those funded from the public purse, have a responsibility to fully report how they design, conduct and evaluate their experiments,” said Vicky Robinson, chief executive of the NC3Rs.

“Without this fundamental information, results have limited value for advancing science, and there is a risk of wasting money and using animals unnecessarily.”

The checklist calls for researchers to give more specific details about the number and type of animals used, how they were housed, how data are gathered and analysed and the details of any adverse experimental outcomes.

The rules have been approved by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

Matt Goode, a spokesman for the BBSRC, said the guidelines would maximise the knowledge gained from future research.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said the guidelines would make a “valuable contribution” to the coalition government’s commitment to reducing the use of animals in scientific research.

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