Here are just some of the variables I can think of. The question is, which should be the minimum that someone needs to report. More is better, but which are critical to know?
- Bred in house or ordered
- Age at testing
Handling and Environment
- Time of day animals transported
- Temperature and humidity of room
- How animals were transported from vivarium (e.g. in home cage, temp transport container?)
- Vivarium conditions (food, light cycle, bedding, number housed)
- How long animals in vivarium (if transferred from outside facility) before being used
- How animals handled (tail, scruffed?)
- Males and females in same room at same time?
- Behavioral apparatus cleaning between cohorts, especially of different sexes or strains
Note: Some of this is assay specific
- Time of day tested
- Acclimation/Habituation (time per day)
- Time between trials of a test
- Sequence in which multiple assays are performed on same day (e.g. VF -> Pin Prick -> Hargreaves)
- Blinding (how are people blinded? Are they blinded?)
Minimum reporting standards have been proposed and adopted for specific assays such as metabolomics and qPCR.
Behavioral assays form the core of so much neuroscience research. In pain research in particular, we have our bread-and-butter assays, but the details that get reported in papers are highly variable.
Clinical pain research has some proposed standards for reporting:
This comment on Twitter got me thinking about minimum reporting standards for pain behavioral assays:
I would love to develop some consensus standards from our community. So let’s get the conversation going.
And of course, for each specific assay, one needs to report exactly what was done, what was measured, etc. This is where things are lacking too. Even for something so common, like VF, a lot goes unsaid. We could have a whole discussion on what constitutes a response.