The STRANGE Guidelines for field research
Scientists working on animal behaviour need to identify, and mitigate, potential sampling biases. A framework which they may use to interrogate how unusual their study subjects are has been constructed: STRANGE (Social background; Trappability and self-selection; Rearing history; Acclimation and habituation; Natural changes in responsiveness; Genetic make-up; and Experience).
This will aid the design of new studies, and enable potential biases to be declared and discussed when publishing completed work.
The guidelines were presented by Michael Webster and Christian Rutz in a Comment in Nature entitled "How STRANGE are your study animals?" Detailed supplementary information with examples of issues within each of the seven categories is available.
The authors of STRANGE also advocate a "3D approach": it is possible to identify and mitigate STRANGE-related biases at little or no extra cost by considering Design, Declare, and Discuss.
A website for STRANGE is under development.
The guidelines have been adopted by the journal Ethology.
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