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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
Office-led project

RIVER Recommendations

Four bottles of culture medium, in a laboratory setting.

At a glance

In progress

R

  • Replacement

Overview

The RIVER recommendations preprint is available via metaArXiv.

Call for participants:

We are currently running a user testing study, to gather feedback on the recommendations. If you are a researcher currently preparing a manuscript for publication that includes in vitro models, find out more.

Transparent and accurate reporting of experiments is an essential component of good biological research. Well reported studies allow readers to assess the reliability of published results, and facilitate reproduction of the methods.

Reporting standards help researchers ensure that manuscripts are complete. Building on our experience developing and revising the ARRIVE guidelines, we have developed RIVER (Reporting In Vitro Experiments Responsibly), a set of six recommendations specifically tailored to reporting in vitro experiments, such that manuscripts describe the minimum information necessary for a reader to assess the methodological rigour and reliability of the study.

Reporting of in vitro experiments is important for several reasons. In vitro studies directly impact animal use, either because they use animal-derived reagents, or because they lead to subsequent animal experiments. In vitro models also provide significant replacement opportunities for some animal studies. For these models to be credible, and for the research community to have confidence in them, it is important that they be reported to the same standards expected of animal experiments. However, recent studies have shown that the reporting of in vitro experiments is often inadequate. For example, in a recent large-scale project examining reproducibility in cancer biology studies, none of the manuscripts contained enough detail to fully reproduce their methods. The RIVER recommendations promote a harmonised approach for journals to improve the standards of reporting in in vitro research.

The recommendations have been developed by a diverse, international working group, drawing from its expertise in research funding and publishing, methodology and statistics, and research in academic, regulatory and industry settings. They were released as a preprint in June 2023.

User testing

Call for participants

Are you a researcher currently preparing a manuscript for publication that includes in vitro models? 

Would you like to get expert feedback on the transparency and reliability of your work before submission? 

We are recruiting participants to ‘user test’ the Reporting In Vitro Experiments Responsibly (RIVER) recommendations.

We are looking for in vitro researchers willing to apply the RIVER recommendations to their draft manuscript and provide feedback on whether the recommendations and their explanations are clear, well understood, and useful in practice. Findings from the user testing will be used to revise the recommendations.

Participants in this study will have the opportunity to receive expert feedback on their manuscript from members of the working group, with the potential to improve the transparency and reliability of your work and its subsequent chances of successful publication. Participants will receive a £50 (Euro/USD equivalent) Amazon voucher for completing the study.

If you are an in vitro researcher in the process of writing a manuscript (or planning to do so shortly), and are interested in user testing the recommendations, please email RIVER@nc3rs.org.uk.

Working group

Name Affiliation
Ian Ragan (Chair)        Independent consultant, UK
Glenn Begley Biotechnology consultant, Australia
Jessica Creery Office of Science Policy, Office of the Director, NIH, USA
Jason Ekert UCB Pharma, USA
Christoph Emmerich PAASP GmbH, Germany
Maria Hodges BMC, part of Springer Nature, UK
Nicole Kleinstreuer NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), USA
Madeline Lancaster MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
Stanley Lazic Prioris.ai, Canada
Jenny Sandström Swiss 3Rs Competence Centre, Switzerland
Jonathan Saxe Cell Press, USA
Hazel Screen Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Emily Sena University of Edinburgh, UK
Sowmya Swaminathan Nature Publishing Group, USA
Kristina Thayer Environmental Protection Agency, USA
Xiaowei Zhang Nanjing University, China

Some members of the RIVER working group have declared competing interests, these are listed in the document below.