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Systematic review of guidelines for internal validity in the design, conduct and analysis of preclinical biomedical experiments involving laboratory animals

Several initiatives have set out to increase transparency and internal validity of preclinical studies. While many of the points raised in these various guidelines are identical or similar, they differ in detail and rigour. Most of them focus on reporting, only few of them cover the planning and conduct of studies.
The aim of this systematic review was to identify existing experimental design, conduct, analysis and reporting guidelines relating to preclinical animal research. Based on a systematic search in PubMed, Embase and Web of Science unique 58 recommendations were extracted. Amongst the most recommended items were sample size calculations, adequate statistical methods, concealed and randomised allocation of animals to treatment, blinded outcome assessment and recording of animal flow through the experiment.
The authors highlight, that – although these recommendations are valuable – there is a striking lack of experimental evidence on their importance and relative effect on experiments and effect sizes.
This work is part of the European Quality In Preclinical Data (EQIPD) consortium.

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