Workshop: Improving peer review of in vivo research proposals

This page contains the following video presentations:

  • Dr Frances Rawle (MRC) – Background to the MRC’s revised guidance and its implementation
  • Professor Malcolm Macleod (University of Edinburgh) – The importance of good experimental design and the consequences of getting it wrong 
  • Dr Kate Button (University of Bath) – Statistical power and the perils of chance
  • Professor Hazel Inskip (University of Southampton) – Study design: effect sizes and statistical analyses
  • Dr Nathalie Percie du Sert (NC3Rs) – Improving the design and reporting of animal studies: the ARRIVE Guidelines and Experimental Design Assistant 
  • Professor Ulrich Dirnagl (Charité) – Improving bench-to-bedside translation

Introduction

On 9 May 2018 the NC3Rs hosted a workshop on experimental design for panel members of the NC3Rs, BBSRC, CRUK, MRC and Wellcome Trust, chaired by Dr Mark Prescott. This was the fourth such event organised by the NC3Rs in collaboration with other funding bodies.

The workshop aimed to raise awareness of:

  • The importance of good experimental design and reporting;
  • The expectations of the funding bodies in this regard, and their revised guidance to applicants;
  • The crucial role of panel members in assessing the quality of information provided in in vivo research proposals.

The full programme and speaker biographies are available in the delegate handbook.

The workshop forms part of a series of initiatives designed to improve the quality of animal based research. The 2010 ARRIVE Guidelines and 2009 survey on the quality of published animal studies, together with growing concern about poor reproducibility in the biosciences, led the NC3Rs and MRC to review the quality of information about animal use and experimental design provided to our various Panels and Boards. The review prompted both organisations and other funders to revise and update our guidance to applicants on what information needs to be provided to allow proper evaluation of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of in vivo proposals, and to make changes to our peer review processes to give greater consideration to these issues.

The workshop presentations below are therefore useful to both panel members and applicants involved with reviewing and drafting research proposals involving animal experiments.

To help guide researchers through the design of their experiments, the NC3Rs has also launched the Experimental Design Assistant (EDA), which is recommended as a resource by the funding bodies.

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Background to the MRC’s revised guidance and its implementation

Dr Frances Rawle, MRC

An overview of the MRC’s revised applicant guidance for proposals involving animal use, with an increased focus on experimental design, avoidance of bias and statistical considerations. The updated guidance for reviewers is also summarised.

Further information and resources


The importance of good experimental design and the consequences of getting it wrong

Professor Malcolm Macleod, University of Edinburgh

A demonstration of the importance of good experimental design, using examples to highlight where bias can be introduced and the implications of this. This presentation also highlights the importance of systematic review and meta-analyses.

Further information and resources

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Statistical power and the perils of chance

Dr Kate Button, University of Bath

The importance of designing experiments with sufficient power, including an explanation of the dangers of low powered experiments, and how good design can increase chances of finding reliable/reproducible results.

Further information and resources

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Study design: effect sizes and statistical analyses

Professor Hazel Inskip, University of Southampton

Key considerations when determining the effect size for a study and why this is so important, including for determining sample size.

Further information and resources

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Improving the design and reporting of animal studies: the ARRIVE Guidelines and Experimental Design Assistant

Dr Nathalie Percie du Sert, NC3Rs

An explanation of the ARRIVE Guidelines, developed to improve the quality of reporting of animal based studies, and the Experimental Design Assistant (EDA), developed to support researchers to design robust experiments. The EDA app includes tailored feedback on experimental design.

Further information and resources

Professor Ulrich Dirnagl (Charité)

An overview of current common practices in preclinical research, and specific things that can be done to improve the robustness of research.

Further information and resources

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