—   diet (4.1 and 6.2),

—   water (4.2), and

—   housing (4.3 and 6.3);

•   basic animal methodology, including aspects of animal care and use that can affect research outcomes (section 5), with detailed information about

—   experimental effects (5.1),

—   administration of substances (5.2),

—   use of infectious agents (5.3),

—   sample acquisition (5.4), and

—   euthanasia (5.5).

The ability to interpret, evaluate, and reproduce biomedical and other types of laboratory animal research and testing is a reasonable minimum standard for the assessment of effective reporting in research articles. Journal editors can substantially contribute to the achievement of this standard through the articulation of clear policies and criteria for their authors and reviewers. This report complements existing checklists and resources by providing guidance and scientific evidence for the specific types of information that should be included in research publications to promote the advancement of science involving animal studies. It also describes approaches to facilitate the provision of such information.

1.1 The Need for Guidance

Analyses of published studies with research animals have demonstrated numerous deficiencies in the reporting of details in research methods for animal studies (Kilkenny 2009; Vesterinen et al. 2011). Despite multiple publications over the past 25 years calling attention to the critical factors and information necessary to enhance such reporting, most scientific journals provide relatively little specific guidance for authors and reviewers and there has been limited effort until quite recently (see next section) to address this systemic problem (Alfaro 2005; Ellery 1985; Öbrink and Rehbinder 2000; Smith et al. 1997). Most biomedical journal policies simply refer to regulatory requirements for animal use, without referring to critically important experimental design information.

Lack of sufficient experimental procedural detail about animal studies in the research literature has both scientific and ethical implications:

  • It limits the ability to confirm and build on research findings.
  • It can lead to the unnecessary use of animals in studies that fail to reproduce the reported results.
  • It may mask problems in the quality of the design and conduct of animal studies (Dirnagl and Macleod 2009; Festing 2003; Festing and Altman 2002; Macleod et al. 2009; Rice et al. 2008).
  • It limits the ability to perform systematic reviews (Hooijmans et al. 2010; Peters et al. 2006; Ranstam 2010; Roberts et al. 2002).
  • The foregoing impacts may give rise to questions about experimental methods and the overall quality of the studies and thus erode support for the utility—and necessity—of laboratory animal research for informing human health treatments (Perel et al. 2007; Pound et al. 2004; van der Worp et al. 2010).

The articulation of clear guidelines by journals for the reporting of animal-related studies will help to address many of these concerns. Useful journal policies will define requirements for accurate

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