Refinement of experimental design and conduct in laboratory animal research

ILAR J. 2014;55(3):383-91. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ilu037.


The scientific literature of laboratory animal research is replete with papers reporting poor reproducibility of results as well as failure to translate results to clinical trials in humans. This may stem in part from poor experimental design and conduct of animal experiments. Despite widespread recognition of these problems and implementation of guidelines to attenuate them, a review of the literature suggests that experimental design and conduct of laboratory animal research are still in need of refinement. This paper will review and discuss possible sources of biases, highlight advantages and limitations of strategies proposed to alleviate them, and provide a conceptual framework for improving the reproducibility of laboratory animal research.

Keywords: 3R; ARRIVE; external validity; internal validity; preregistration; refinement; reproducibility; standardization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Experimentation*
  • Animals
  • Models, Animal
  • Peer Review, Research
  • Random Allocation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design*