ARRIVE?. It won’t unless it gets enforced


As you know part of my job is to talk about the animal work we do and so it is appropriate that I comment on animal issues. (a) So you can understand a bit more on what we do and (b) so you can understand on the regulatory environment that we and others work in.

I recently commented on the ARRIVE guidelines, which I teach to the students because it can help with experimental design. These are suggestions of what aspects to report in terms of animal research.

I wonder if this post will bring out the weasels again? Whilst I am ProfMouse and not Prof Yaffel (greenwoodpecker), it seems that weasels are getting on both our backs

The ARRIVE 2009 guidelines (Animal Research Reporting of In Vivo experiments) are soon to be superseded by the ARRIVE 2019 revision.

The ARRIVE guidelines 2019: updated guidelines for reporting animal research Nathalie Percie du Sert et al. bioRxiv 703181; doi:

Reporting animal research: Explanation and Elaboration for the ARRIVE guidelines 2019 Nathalie Percie du Sert et al. bioRxiv 703355; doi:

The authors have deposited the papers in an online pre-print site (BioRXiv). The X is actually the Greek letter Chi,  so it is pronounced BioArchive. This is the trendy new thing to do, so it gets your work out there in public view ASAP. The idea is you can see the paper early, but also it means that the science community can comment. This does not seem to happen as a quick look through the Tweets and they are just announcements of submission of the paper

I made some comments (see above for link). I would be happy if the reviewer would read them, as there elements that I think will be barriers to adoption of the guidelines. It must have touched a few nerves as someone has made a complaint about the Blog Post to the Head of Institute. Yep a complaint to my Boss. Was it their aim to get me into trouble or close down the Blog?

The boss has tried to protect the identity of the weasel ( How anti-science is this?

Happily our Boss said we are free to express opinions. Surely that is what academics do. This is the science process and if you try and stiffle this, you get a monoculture of thought. Sadly this creates scientific Lemmings. This sadly means animals will get killed, not by vivisectionists, but by following dogma off a science dead-end cliff!

Anyway now I have got that off my chest I can go on to the real post about the ARRIVE guidelines.

The paper looks at the impact of the ARRIVE guidelines. Whilst many journals have endorsed it, few have enforced it and therefore compliance has been low. This paper looks at this and sees what happens, if the journal requires a checklist at the time of submission. PLOSOne is an open access journal that publishes over 30,000 papers a year at £2,000 a paper thats £60,000,000 so you can see why the open access publishing approach can be so lucrative. You would think that with so many papers the cost of publishing would go down.

Anyway it found that no paper provided all elements of the the ARRIVE guidelines and compliance was low for most elements. However it speaks to the view that the ARRIVE guidelines are asking for elements that are not normal science behaviours.

The Americans had also published a simpler set of guidelines and these were also not adequately reported.

This is timely because we need to do something to improve the quality of some EAE work. In the study below they asked people to submit a checklist but they found no-one full filled all aspects. This is not surprising to me because the guidelide asks for information that can be used to reject the submission and the ARRIVE fails to accommodate the word/reference limited publishing environment that we currently have to work in.

For example if every paper says I use goldfish to study MS because….blah, blah blah, it would get really boring to read and if you read a hundred papers saying the same thing. You would know the answer and people would simply copy it. Importantly you have already said this when you get your Home Office licence to work on animals. In this study surprisingly more people gave information about the husbandry of the animals, if they did a check list. However these aspects are all prescribed by the Home Office in the UK and are regulated by central Government in UK, so it is easy to find details of temperature, humidity, cage size, cage density etc. It is sad that filling in a check list does not improve change. Do the number of toilet rolls (sometimes part of the environmetal enrichmet in animal cages) chewed by the animals make a difference?

However, this provides a basis for a new experiment. First. I would not propose requesting all ARRIVE details, but just an essential few. Don’t run before you can walk. I would request that authours report where they have documented the information in the paper and until that is done and importantly it is checked by journal staff, the paper cannot be submitted. People then change or they stop submitting. If it is the latter, then no big deal because if people are frightened of documenting a few methodological essentials, then the work is probably unreproducible guff. I would go further and demand that the raw animal data is submitted as another additional requirement, getting a statement of data availability is not good enough. People will simply say yes and never make the data available. I have personal experience of this.

Finally I will say again. I am not convinced that reporting experimental detail is the reason for the translational failure of animal studies.

Hair K, Macleod MR, Sena ES; IICARus Collaboration. A randomised controlled trial of an Intervention to Improve Compliance with the ARRIVE guidelines (IICARus). Res Integr Peer Rev. 2019 Jun 12;4:12. doi: 10.1186/s41073-019-0069-3

BACKGROUND: The ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines are widely endorsed but compliance is limited. We sought to determine whether journal-requested completion of an ARRIVE checklist improves full compliance with the guidelines.

METHODS: In a randomised controlled trial, manuscripts reporting in vivo animal research submitted to PLOS ONE (March-June 2015) were randomly allocated to either requested completion of an ARRIVE checklist or current standard practice. Authors, academic editors, and peer reviewers were blinded to group allocation. Trained reviewers performed outcome adjudication in duplicate by assessing manuscripts against an operationalised version of the ARRIVE guidelines that consists 108 items. Our primary outcome was the between-group differences in the proportion of manuscripts meeting all ARRIVE guideline checklist subitems.

RESULTS: We randomised 1689 manuscripts (control: n = 844, intervention: n = 845), of which 1269 were sent for peer review and 762 (control: n = 340; intervention: n = 332) accepted for publication. No manuscript in either group achieved full compliance with the ARRIVE checklist. Details of animal husbandry (ARRIVE subitem 9b) was the only subitem to show improvements in reporting, with the proportion of compliant manuscripts rising from 52.1 to 74.1% (X 2 = 34.0, df = 1, p = 2.1 × 10-7) in the control and intervention groups, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that altering the editorial process to include requests for a completed ARRIVE checklist is not enough to improve compliance with the ARRIVE guidelines. Other approaches, such as more stringent editorial policies or a targeted approach on key quality items, may promote improvements in reporting.

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