The ARRIVE guidelines 2019: updated guidelines for reporting animal research

Highly recommended read for everyone doing animal research
These should be the standards we hold ourselves to
And we’d save ourselves a lot of trouble if our planning and experiments started by looking at these checklists, rather than doing our experiments and then trying to see if our execution matches up.

@thicunha @tberta @liz @ShanTan @tonellor @runDRG @jmogil @gcorder @SamineniV @CandlerPaige

I strongly urge everybody to oppose the ARRIVE guidelines. The issue is whether we are going to let ideologically-driven private organizations to dictate how we conduct our science. This would set a dangerous precedent, specially given that journals like the European Journal of Neuroscience are enforcing the ARRIVE rules. The ARRIVE guidelines were established by NC3Rs, a British organization with close ties with the animal rights movement. The 3Rs (reduce, replace, refine) have created the wrong impression that we are going to reduce the number of animals used in research, when in fact the opposite is happening… And it needs to happen, unless we want to reduce the amount of scientific research. Please, inform yourself on how the animal rights movement is impacting scientific research. A lot of scientists, like Nikos Logothetis, are moving to China because it has become impossible to do animal research in Europe, particularly with monkeys.

@marvizon Thank you for your comments and thoughts.
I don’t know much about the politics or back-room dealings regarding ARRIVE, but just on face value, the recommendations look sensible. Setting aside the provenance or underlying motives of the ARRIVE guidelines, which specific recommendations do you take issue with? Put another way, say these same recommendations came from IASP or SFN. Would you still have the same reservations?

Essential Set

Recommended but optional

The issue is not what specific regulations are good or bad, but who gets to decide how science is done. Up until now, scientists decided what was good science and what is not, using devices like the peer-review. Scientific methods were debated in journals and meetings until a consensus was reached. The USA government was sensible enough to enshrine the peer-review process in grant review, giving scientists a lot of power. But these days we see how journals and organizations are taking big parcels of that power away. The strategy of animal rights organizations is to increase regulations until doing animal research becomes impracticable.

So the question is, are we willing to give away the power on how we do science or are we going to push back?

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Thanks for clarifying @marvizon. Those are indeed different questions.

I’m looking at these guidelines more as “how can I do better science, with outcomes that are more reproducible and ultimately more accurate?” Those are my motivations and these recommendations all look sensible. Whether they are a Trojan horse to make doing animal research impractical, I do not know, but I defer to your experience. I don’t doubt that there are ulterior motives for this and just about anything that looks good on the surface.

But if scientists look at guidelines like these and voluntarily apply to their work, I have no issue with that and think that is ultimately wise and good for our field. For example, the Experimental Design tool that NC3R made is really useful and would certainly improve the design of our experiments before wasting time/effort on poorly designed studies:

Do I not use such a tool because of its origin?

But if you want me to criticize specifically the ARRIVE guidelines, I will point out the “clinical trialitis”: the push to do animal research like a clinical trial. For example, randomization makes a lot of sense when dealing with people, but is plainly stupid with you work with rats or mice. All rats look the same, so why would we pick up one rat instead of the other? Also, do you really design an experiment and then follow it through no matter what? Making changes as you go make sense a lot of the time. In a clinical trial you are testing one or at most two variables, while in basic science you deal with lots of variables at the same time, some of which you don’t even know when you start a series of experiments. I do a lot of test trials, which may or may not grow into a real experiment by adding test subjects. I may add experimental groups and drop others as I go along. I may even change my hypotheses. All this may be messy, but it saves time, effort and animals. We all know that the story told in a paper is quite different from how the experiments were actually done.

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Yes, if the ARRIVE guidelines were purely educational and optional, it would be great. Although I would like to see some discussion of them by scientists. The problem is that they are not: journals are enforcing them as a condition to accept your paper and soon enough we may see NIH or other funding agency saying that you have to follow them or you won’t get funded. And then nobody will dare to protest.

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Thank you for your response. Well, I was hoping to get some discussion by scientists going here. I agree, these should not be forced by coercion but by agreement that these are useful and necessary prescriptions to do better science. We all know from talking to colleagues that many results in pain research are dubious or irreproducible, and that has many causes, but one might be poor design or poor reporting or both. We should be transparent about those issues and work to improve the quality of our science. Doesn’t need to be ARRIVE. They just did a lot of work that seems sensible.

For pain research specifically, here is a consensus statement in PAIN from a few years back

Whether and to what extent these have been adopted, I’m not sure.