Web-based survey among animal researchers on publication practices and incentives for increasing publication rates
ObjectivesPublication bias, non-publication, and selective reporting of animal studies limit progress toward the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) that guide ethical animal testing, waste public resources, and result in redundant research, which collectively undermine the public's trust in scientific reliability. In this study, we aimed to 1) validate findings from a previous follow-up study by our team that examined the publication rates of animal studies from protocol to publication and 2) identify incentives for improving publication rates in animal research.
MethodsThe researchers responsible for the animal proposals (n = 210) from our previous study were contacted as participants for a Web-based survey between October 2019 and April 2020. Question types varied between free text questions, answer options based on a 5-point Likert scale and closed yes/no questions.
ResultsIn total, 78 researchers responsible for 101 of 210 animal study proposals participated, yielding a response rate of 48.1%. Results showed that the publication rate increased from 67% in our follow-up study to 70%. According to a 5-point Likert scale (from 1 = "not relevant" to 5 = "extremely relevant"), the most widely accepted suggestions for increasing publication rates were "Publication costs for open access journals are fully covered by funders or universities" (mean 4.02, SD 1.01), "Performance-based allocation of intramural funds for results reporting of animal research not supporting the initial hypothesis (including preprints and repositories)" (mean 3.37, SD 1.05), and "Researchers receive more information from scientific journals that also publish non-significant results" (mean 3.30, SD 1.02).
ConclusionWhile the extent of publication and publication practices have been thoroughly investigated for clinical trials, less data is available for animal research to date. Therefore, the study contributes in complementing the picture of publication practice in animal research. Suggestions from our survey may help improve the publication rates of animal studies.