Authorization of Animal Experiments Is Based on Confidence Rather than Evidence of Scientific Rigor

Hanno Würbel and his team investigated the measures taken to decrease the risk of research biases in grant applications or publications: Their findings reveal that only a few grant applications describe protection mechanisms against research biases: A) only 8% mention whether a sample-size calculation was preformed when designing the experiment, B) only 13% mention whether animals were randomly assigned in experiments and C) only 3% stated whether the experiments were performed in a blinded fashion.

However, when the same scientists applying for grants were asked in a questionnaire for their research practices the numbers were significantly higher: A) 69% of the researchers stated that they perform sample size calculation, B) 86% perform randomizations and C) 47% perform blinded experiments.

Although only 302 of the 1891 invited researchers responding appropriately to the survey, the results show that there is still a lack of awareness of the problem that reporting quality aspects such as randomization, blinding and power analysis are an essential requirement to judge data quality and integrity. In addition, it also demonstrates that current incentives and processes installed by scientific journals or funding organizations are not sufficient to support the implementation and/or reporting of measures to lessen the risk of bias.

However, the situation might even be worse than suggested by Würbel et al.: As only 17% of researches responded to the survey, it can therefore not be excluded, that scientists who have implemented a greater use of methods to reduce bias in their laboratories were more willing to take part in this survey (selection bias). LINK

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