Revision of the ARRIVE guidelines

    Background

    In 2010, the NC3Rs developed the Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, a 20-item checklist designed to improve the reporting of research using animals. The guidelines were originally published in PLOS Biology and other journals, and have been endorsed by many research-intensive universities, major research funders, and over 1,000 journals worldwide (for a full list see our ARRIVE endorsers page).

    Despite growing levels of support for the ARRIVE guidelines throughout the scientific community over recent years, there is limited evidence of improvement in the quality of reporting in animal research publications. 

    We have convened an international working group to review the ARRIVE guidelines and develop a strategy to accelerate their uptake. This will ensure that the guidelines continue to provide appropriate support for different stakeholders to improve the reporting of animal experiment in scientific publications.

    Strategy

    The current work focuses on three main areas:

    1. Prioritisation of the ARRIVE items into a tiered system

    The items in the ARRIVE guidelines will be organised into tiers representing different levels of priority; tier one items will include the most important items on which initial efforts should focus. In their current form, the ARRIVE guidelines do no lend themselves easily to retrospective evaluation. Prioritising a subset of items will provide more manageable metrics for journals, institutions or researchers to assess reporting progress.

    Items will be allocated to different tiers by the working group and other key stakeholders; the Delphi method will be used to reach a consensus.

    2. Publication of an Explanation and Elaboration (E&E) document

    We are developing an E&E document to summarise the evidence behind each item of the guidelines and to explain why each item is important to report in a manuscript. This will provide additional explanation and definitions for technical terms, as well as examples from the published literature on how to report ARRIVE items. This information will also be made easily accessible via a dedicated ARRIVE website.

    3. Revision of specific items

    We are reviewing specific items to ensure that the guidance provided is in line with the current best evidence. We are also looking at improving clarity and the logical flow of information within the guidelines. The revision will ensure that the guidelines are relevant to both exploratory and confirmatory in vivo research.

    Working group

    Name

    Affiliation

    Professor Stephen Holgate (Chair)

    University of Southampton, UK

    Professor Amrita Ahluwalia

    Queen Mary University of London, UK

    Dr Sabina Alam

    F1000 Research, UK

    Professor Doug Altman*

    University of Oxford, UK

    Dr Marc Avey

    ICF, Canada

    Ms Monya Baker

    Nature, US

    Professor Bill Browne

    University of Bristol, UK

    Dr Alejandra Clark

    PLOS ONE, UK

    Professor Innes Cuthill

    University of Bristol, UK

    Professor Ulrich Dirnagl

    QUEST – Center for Transforming Biomedical Research, Berlin Institute of Health, Germany

    Dr Mike Emerson

    Imperial College London, UK

    Professor Paul Garner

    Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK

    Professor David Howells

    University of Tasmania, Australia

    Dr Viki Hurst NC3Rs, UK

    Dr Natasha Karp

    Astrazeneca, UK

    Dr Catriona Maccallum

    Hindawi, UK

    Professor Malcolm Macleod

    University of Edinburgh, UK

    Dr Nathalie Percie du Sert NC3Rs, UK

    Professor Ole Petersen

    Cardiff University, UK

    Dr Frances Rawle

    Medical Research Council, UK

    Dr Penny Reynolds

    University of Florida, USA

    Dr Kieron Rooney

    University of Sydney, Australia

    Dr Emily Sena

    University of Edinburgh, UK

    Dr Shai Silberberg

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA (role is to provide expertise and not to represent the opinion of the entire NIH)

    Dr Thomas Steckler

    Janssen Pharmaceutica NV / Johnson & Johnson, Belgium

    Professor Hanno Würbel

    University of Bern, Switzerland

    Professor Doug Altman passed away on 3 June 2018. As one of the co-authors of the ARRIVE guidelines and an active member of the working group to revise them, Doug made instrumental contributions to the work of the NC3Rs. He will be sorely missed.

    Conflicts of interest for the working group can be accessed here.

    Evidence used to inform this work

    A number of recent projects have assessed the impact of the ARRIVE guidelines. The studies described below were used to develop our strategy.

    IICARus (A randomised controlled trial of an Intervention to Improve Compliance with the ARRIVE guidelines)

    With joint funding from the MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust and the NC3Rs, the CAMARADES group carried out a randomised controlled trial in the journal PLOS ONE, assessing whether full compliance with the ARRIVE guidelines is improved by mandating the completion of a checklist with the submission of a research paper. As part of this, the ARRIVE guidelines were operationalised into a list of over 100 specific questions, and the compliance rate for each item of the ARRIVE guidelines was assessed. Crowdsourcing was used to recruit reviewers who assessed the quality of reporting in these manuscripts. Although the call for reviewers has now closed, the online training module is still available and is a great resource for training in high quality reporting of animal research.

    The ARRIVE guidelines survey

    The ARRIVE guidelines are aimed primarily at scientists writing up their research for publication and those who are involved in peer review. We have conducted a survey of these individuals to explore current practice in the design, conduct, reporting and reviewing of animal experiments, and to identify the reasons for good or bad compliance with any of the 20 items of the guidelines.

    Journal editor interviews

    We have also conducted semi-structured interviews with journal editors to collect qualitative information about the use of reporting guidelines in editorial processes. A number of journals were selected with varying levels of endorsement of the ARRIVE guidelines, and a range of strategies to achieve high standards of reporting.

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