In biomedical research, limitations in the design and reporting of experiments are known to cause avoidable waste of time and resources. One important factor leading to avoidable waste is publication bias, in which the outcome of a study influences the chance of publishing.
However, there are no data available to quantify the extent of this issue. Thus, Mira van der Naald and colleagues tracked selected animal study protocols approved by the University Medical Center Utrecht to assess whether these have led to a publication with a follow-up period of 7 years.
As a result, the authors found that around 40% of all animal study protocols did not lead to at least one publication (full text or abstract). A total of 5590 animals were used in these studies, of which 26% were reported in the resulting publications.
The authors conclude that the data presented here underline the need for preclinical preregistration, in view of the risk of reporting and publication bias in preclinical research. All animal study protocols should be prospectively registered on an online, accessible platform to increase transparency and data sharing. To facilitate this, the authors have developed a platform dedicated to animal study protocol registration: