Translational failure in biomedicine has led to much soul-searching about the causes for this. Amongst many others (misunderstanding of statistical tests, vibration of effects, flexibility in data analysis, HARKing) there is a primary problem with bias in the way in which animal studies are planned, conducted and analysed. Reporting of measures to reduce the risk of bias is poor, and the most parsimonious explanation for this is that the measures were not taken (rather than not reported). Studies at such risk of bias give inflated estimates of biological effects.
Risk of bias is a pervasive problem across institutions, journals, and research fields, and attempts to improve research quality have, to date, had little apparent effect. It seems that “on the street”, scientists still feel that the pressure to publish novel findings in journals of high impact is substantially greater than the pressure to conduct their research to the highest (or even to moderately high) quality; and in response to these competing pressures research quality remains low.
To secure greatest value from the resources invested in research (including animals), this needs to be changed.
Two Learning Objectives