Adequate reporting is crucial for the transparency and reproducibility of preclinical research, including studies that use animals. In 2010, following a study looking at the quality of published in vivo research, the NC3Rs developed the ARRIVE guidelines, a 20-item checklist covering the key information that should be included in a scientific publication describing animal studies.

To date, over a thousand journals, research funders and institutes endorse the guidelines. Despite this substantial level of support, there is mixed evidence of the impact of ARRIVE on the quality of reporting in animal research publications1.

The NC3Rs recently convened an international working group of experts to review the ARRIVE guidelines, and develop a strategy to accelerate their uptake. They have now published their strategy for the revision of the guidelines in BMJ Open Science2. The strategy focuses on three main areas:

  • Prioritising the items of the ARRIVE guidelines and identifying a subset of the most crucial pieces of information within the guidelines to focus on, to enable a more manageable approach for assessing the quality of reporting in manuscripts. Consensus will be achieved using a Delphi survey within the working group and with key external stakeholders.
  • Developing an Explanation and Elaboration document to explain why each item is important to report and provide additional examples and descriptions of technical terms.
  • Revising individual items of the guidelines to ensure that the guidance provided is in line with the current best evidence.

The NC3Rs plan to launch the revised guidelines next year, but this is just the first step. Ultimately, the ARRIVE guidelines will form the basis of a powerful suite of tools and resources available to researchers to improve the design, conduct and reporting of in vivo research. These resources will also benefit those tasked with assessing the quality and translational value of preclinical research.

Improving reporting should be a community-wide effort, and it is essential that this includes scientists from a range of research fields and countries. The NC3Rs encourages the community to share their experience and views. Please contact Dr Viki Hurst if you would like to be involved.

Adapted from NC3Rs Newsletter June 2018