As part of ongoing efforts to reduce waste and increase the reproducibility of animal research and testing, a group of experts led by the Secretary of Norecopa has produced a set of guidelines for planning animal experiments:

PREPARE (Planning Research and Experimental Procedures on Animals: Recommendations for Excellence)

The PREPARE guidelines for planning animal experiments complement the ARRIVE guidelines and other guidance for reporting experiments. PREPARE focuses on a large number of factors which, although they are seldom reported in scientific papers, can dramatically influence the validity and outcome of studies on animals, as well as the health and safety of all those concerned. They cover all stages of quality assurance, from the management of an animal facility or population to the individual procedures which form part of a study. The guidelines are based upon the authors' experience in running animal facilities, collaborating with researchers (including those working with farm animals, fish and wildlife), serving on advisory and regulatory committees, and planning their own animal studies.

The guidelines paper is available free of charge in the journal Laboratory Animals under Open Access.

The 15 topics in the guidelines, with a large number of links to other more specific guidelines and resources, are discussed under the sections in the menu above. They include a suggestion for a contract between the animal facility and research group, to aid division of labour, costs and responsibility.

A 2-page checklist, available in several languages, can be downloaded free of charge here.

Links to new resources will be added as they are developed.
PREPARE will therefore be a living and dynamic set of guidelines which mirror developments in best practice within the field of research animal science and 3R-alternatives.

Please contact Adrian Smith at Norecopa for more information.

Powerpoint presentation for free downloading
The PREPARE guidelines for planning animal research and testing

Please note:
The list of items in PREPARE is offered as a guide and should be adapted to the individual research project, animal species and location. Some elements will be the responsibility of the animal facility itself, rather than the individual research group, since they determine the standard of the facility as a whole. However, a research project often raises questions which are not covered by the facility’s normal work routines. These include activities which have potential health and safety risks, such as the use of micro-organisms, ionising radiation and carcinogens. Early and open dialogue between the facility and research group, to create a good atmosphere for collaboration, is therefore essential. For example, if a facility cannot safely conduct an experiment without structural changes or investment in new equipment, this should be discussed with the research group at an early stage, however tempting it may be to start collaboration on a prestigious project. Animal welfare and ethics committees can be a useful forum for some of this dialogue.

PREPARE: Guidelines for Planning Animal Research and Testing
Adrian J. Smith1, R. Eddie Clutton2, Elliot Lilley3, Kristine E. Aa. Hansen4 & Trond Brattelid5

1Norecopa, c/o Norwegian Veterinary Institute, P.O. Box 750 Sentrum, 0106 Oslo, Norway; 2Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, U.K.; 3Research Animals Department, Science Group, RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 9RS, U.K.; 4Section of Experimental Biomedicine, Department of Production Animal Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., 0033 Oslo, Norway; 5Division for Research Management and External Funding, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, 5020 Bergen, Norway.

The costs of Open Access publication of the PREPARE guidelines and the production of conference posters were kindly provided by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW).

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