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Attitudes towards animal study registries and their characteristics: An online survey of three cohorts of animal researchers

Susanne Wieschowski, Hans Laser, Emily S Sena, André Bleich, René Tolba and Daniel Strech

PLOS ONE, 2020, vol. 15, issue 1, 1-15

Abstract: Objectives: Prospective registration of animal studies has been suggested as a new measure to increase value and reduce waste in biomedical research. We sought to further explore and quantify animal researchers’ attitudes and preferences regarding animal study registries (ASRs). Design: Cross-sectional online survey. Setting and participants: We conducted a survey with three different samples representing animal researchers: i) corresponding authors from journals with high Eigenfactor, ii) a random Pubmed sample and iii) members of the CAMARADES network. Main outcome measures: Perceived level of importance of different aspects of publication bias, the effect of ASRs on different aspects of research as well as the importance of different research types for being registered. Results: The survey yielded responses from 413 animal researchers (response rate 7%). The respondents indicated, that some aspects of ASRs can increase administrative burden but could be outweighed by other aspects decreasing this burden. Animal researchers found it more important to register studies that involved animal species with higher levels of cognitive capabilities. The time frame for making registry entries publicly available revealed a strong heterogeneity among respondents, with the largest proportion voting for “access only after consent by the principal investigator” and the second largest proportion voting for “access immediately after registration”. Conclusions: The fact that the more senior and experienced animal researchers participating in this survey clearly indicated the practical importance of publication bias and the importance of ASRs underscores the problem awareness across animal researchers and the willingness to actively engage in study registration if effective safeguards for the potential weaknesses of ASRs are put into place. To overcome the first-mover dilemma international consensus statements on how to deal with prospective registration of animal studies might be necessary for all relevant stakeholder groups including animal researchers, academic institutions, private companies, funders, regulatory agencies, and journals.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226443

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