Do I need to consider the sex of the animals for my study? Is the background noise level likely to vary? Do I need to control the illumination level during study conduct? Should I document any changes in cell density during my experiment?
Ideally, these questions are clarified before starting an experiment – if it turns out in the end that an essential control was missing or that a critical parameter was not recorded, all efforts and resources are wasted.
To address this problem, we here present PEERS (Platform for the Exchange of Experimental Research Standards), an open-access online platform that helps scientists to determine which experimental factors and variables most likely affect the outcome of their experiment and should therefore be considered when planning, conducting and reporting biomedical studies. The PEERS project is financially and organizationally supported by Cohen Veterans Bioscience Ltd.
In the paper by Sil et al., we have created a proof-of-concept focusing on the Open Field Test (OFT) in rodents and describe the identification of factors from scientific literature affecting the OFT and explain the process of generating scorecards rating the quality of evidence for each publication.
The PEERS database is categorized into in vivo and in vitro experiments and is based on a structured and transparent system for rating the strength of evidence that a certain factor is relevant for a specific method/model.
Importantly, PEERS also encourages the scientific community to actively expand the information contained within the platform.
Ultimately, PEERS provides guidance on the key methodological considerations that should be prioritized to ensure that preclinical research is conducted to the highest standards and can translate into successful clinical programs.