I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week


PLoS One



‘Invisible actors’-How poor methodology reporting compromises mouse models of oncology: A cross-sectional survey.


The laboratory mouse is a key player in preclinical oncology research. However, emphasis of techniques reporting at the expense of critical animal-related detail compromises research integrity, animal welfare, and, ultimately, the translation potential of mouse-based oncology models. To evaluate current reporting practices, we performed a cross-sectional survey of 400 preclinical oncology studies using mouse solid-tumour models. Articles published in 2020 were selected from 20 journals that specifically endorsed the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) preclinical reporting guidelines. We assessed reporting compliance for 22 items in five domains: ethical oversight assurance, animal signalment, husbandry, welfare, and euthanasia. Data were analysed using hierarchical generalised random-intercept models, clustered on journal. Overall, reporting of animal-related items was poor. Median compliance over all categories was 23%. There was little or no association between extent of reporting compliance and journal or journal impact factor. Age, sex, and source were reported most frequently, but verifiable strain information was reported for <10% of studies. Animal husbandry, housing environment, and welfare items were reported by <5% of studies. Fewer than one in four studies reported analgesia use, humane endpoints, or an identifiable method of euthanasia. Of concern was the poor documentation of ethical oversight information. Fewer than one in four provided verifiable approval information, and almost one in ten reported no information, or information that was demonstrably false. Mice are the "invisible actors" in preclinical oncology research. In spite of widespread endorsement of reporting guidelines, adherence to reporting guidelines on the part of authors is poor and journals fail to enforce guideline reporting standards. In particular, the inadequate reporting of key animal-related items severely restricts the utility and translation potential of mouse models, and results in research waste. Both investigators and journals have the ethical responsibility to ensure animals are not wasted in uninformative research.