A recent publication entitled, “Guidance for the Description of Animal Research in Scientific Publications” from the National Academies Press (Sept, 2011), authored by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) at the National Research Council (NRC) details the suggested content for effectively describing animal research in publications. While animal research follows accepted rules of oversight, approval, and scientific experimentation, the reporting of that research is not standardized.
In research, the purpose of publication is to express novel findings, and present the science in a manner that would allow for one’s peers to replicate and confirm the findings. The “Guidance” article describes three major areas where detail is important; the chosen research animal under investigation, the animal’s environment, and the research methodology.
Each of these broad categories is further defined. Important information to communicate effectively regarding the research animal includes basic facts such as age, gender, weight, source, genotype, and microbial status. The description involving the animal’s environment should include the animals’ micro- and macroenvironment, along with diet, water and housing. Description of the research methodology should include all details of experimentation, along with factors including administration of substances (cells, drugs, agents), sample acquisition, and euthanasia.
Each of these broad categories should be adequately described and defined during the submission and review process, and subsequently reported in publication form. Effective reporting of this information will reduce the need for confirmatory studies and enable future work to build on a solid understanding of the published results. An appendix of the “Guidance” lists more granular details about what should be reported, as well as suggestions on optional areas that may not pertain to all research.