Today new reporting guidelines – ARRIVE 2.0 – have been published in PLOS Biology. These build on previous guidelines published by the NC3Rs in 2010. Although these were widely endorsed by journals and funders, they have not led to the comprehensive improvements in reporting intended and the new guidelines set out to address this.
Poor reporting of research methods and findings is a major factor that influences the reliability and reproducibility of scientific studies, including those involving animals. It is hard to argue that animals aren’t being wasted when the research can’t be properly scrutinised or reproduced because of a lack of information or detail. Tackling this has become an international effort driven by ethical concerns and the desire to ensure that data from in vivo studies fully adds to the knowledge base.
The major shift is the prioritisation of the recommendations in the new guidelines into two groups to simplify their use in practice – the “ARRIVE Essential 10” that are the basic minimum to include in a manuscript to enable readers and reviewers to assess the reliability of the findings, and the complementary “Recommended Set” that provides context to the study. The aim is for the scientific community to focus initial efforts on the Essential 10, with the recommended set subsequently adopted as best reporting practice.
A major barrier to full and transparent reporting of animal research is a lack of understanding about the importance of including information on experimental design and statistical analyses, for example, sample size calculations and strategies to minimise bias, and the consequences of omitting these key details. To address this, the guidelines are also accompanied by an “explanation and elaboration” document which describes the relevance of each item in the guidelines with examples of good practice taken from the literature.
NC3Rs head of experimental design and reporting Dr Nathalie Percie du Sert said:
“All researchers expect that their work will make an important contribution to the knowledge base. This can only happen if the work is fully and transparently reported. In ARRIVE 2.0 we have focused on simplifying the guidelines based on our experience and feedback from the scientific community as well as addressing misconceptions about why reporting methodological details is critical in a manuscript. The responsibility now lies with researchers and organisations to embrace ARRIVE 2.0 and the associated resources we have provided, ensuring that the poor reporting of in vivo research is a thing of the past.”
ARRIVE 2.0 was developed by an international working group which included funders, journal editors, statisticians and researchers from the UK, mainland Europe, North America and Australia. The prioritisation of the recommendations into the two sets was supported by a Delphi exercise with more than 70 experts from 19 countries participating. Although the primary purpose of the guidelines is to improve the quality of manuscripts, they can also be used during the planning and conduct of animal studies to help make sure that experiments are robustly designed and properly recorded, preparing the way for future publication.
Director of Research Quality at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, Dr Shai Silberberg, said:
“The efforts made by NC3Rs to update and streamline the ARRIVE guidelines are commendable. The ARRIVE Essential 10 that highlight items related to potential risk of bias serve an important step toward better study design, experimental rigor, and improved reporting.”
Professor Malcolm Macleod, Professor of Neurology and Translational Neuroscience and Academic Lead for Research Improvement and Research Integrity at the University of Edinburgh, UK said:
“The release of ARRIVE 2.0 is an important milestone in our efforts to improve the reporting – and we hope, also, the design, conduct and analysis – of animal research. The NC3Rs are to be congratulated on bringing together such a diverse and international team to revise the guidelines, and for the huge amount of unseen effort that their team have put into supporting that process and driving it forward.”
An Explanation and Elaboration document – also published in PLOS Biology – accompanies the new guidelines, and a dedicated website, www.ARRIVEguidelines.org, has been launched. The website includes resources for researchers and stakeholders such as journals and funders. The ARRIVE guidelines have been translated into French and German, with more languages to follow.
To encourage wide dissemination, ARRIVE 2.0 are also published in BMC Veterinary Research, BMJ Open Science, the British Journal of Pharmacology, the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Experimental Physiology and the Journal of Physiology.