TREND WATCH: More than 600 research journals have now signed up to voluntary guidelines that are designed to improve the reporting of animal experiments.

Scientists have repeatedly pointed out that many published papers on animal studies suffer from poor study design and sloppy reporting — leaving the research at a substantial risk of bias.

Credit: NC3Rs

So in 2010, the ARRIVE guidelines (Animals in Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) were introduced by a team led by the UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)1. They provide a detailed checklist of elements that should be included in any reporting of animal research, such as information about animal strain and sex, appropriate statistical calculations and disclosure of adverse events.

More than 150 journals endorsed the ARRIVE guidelines in 2015 alone, according to NC3Rs data — the highest number of signatories in a single year since the checklist's release in 2010. By the end of January 2016, the total number had passed 600.

Still, endorsement does not mean enforcement: a 2014 study suggested that researchers largely ignore the voluntary guidelines. By comparing some papers published before and after the guidelines were issued, it found that there was little difference in the quality of reporting2.