Quality of much animal research: not so good

Below are some quotes from Ben Goldacre commenting on a study on the quality of animal research in Great Britain. Poorly designed research is not a good basis for medical decisions. I take this as another all too common example of the scientific community not doing an adequate job of policing themselves.

link to Goldacre article: http://tiny.cc/BFjR1

“The papers they found covered a huge range of publicly funded research, behavioural and diet studies, drug and chemical testing, immunological experiments, and more. Some of the flaws they found were bizarre. Four per cent of papers didn’t mention how many animals were used in the experiment, anywhere. The researchers looked in detail at 48 studies that did say how many they used: not one explained why they had chosen their particular number of animals. Thirty-five per cent of the papers gave one figure for the number of animals used in the methods, and then a different number of animals appeared in the results. That’s pretty disorganised. They looked at how many studies used basic strategies to reduce bias in their results, like randomisation and blinding….

If you’re comparing one intervention against another, for example, and you don’t randomly assign animals to each group, then it’s possible you might unconsciously put the stronger animals in the group getting a potentially beneficial experimental intervention, or vice versa, thus distorting your results…..

Only 12% of the animal studies used randomisation. Only 14% used blinding. And the reporting was often poor. Only 8% gave the raw data, allowing you to go back and do your own analysis. About half the studies left the numbers of animals in each group out of their tables.”

btw, Goldacre’s main point in the article is the extremism of animal rights activists.

Here is a link to the PLOS study: http://tiny.cc/ad9ZJ

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