The goal of reduction, the second of the 3R's, is to reduce the numbers of animals used to obtain information of a given amount and precision. To achieve this, the Australian Code of Practice requires that:
- studies are designed to be scientifically and statistically valid
- only the minimum numbers of animals are used
- studies should not be repeated unnecessarily.
There are two important caveats:
- the principle of reduction of numbers of animals should not be applied at the expense of greater suffering to individual animals
- the number of animals used must satisfy statistical requirements -neither too few nor too many.
Remember - if reducing the numbers of animals makes it impossible to reach a valid conclusion from the experiment, this does NOT achieve the goal of Reduction. To proceed with such an experiment is inherently unethical.
On-line resources to assist in applying the principle of reduction can be found at:
FRAME Reduction Steering Committee: Training Materials on Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis.
For many years, organisations such as the International Council on Laboratory Animal Care, have advocated that when the results of animal experiments are reported, a description of how those animals have been housed and procedures conducted are provided with the report. This will promote Reduction by identifying those factors which may have influenced an animalís response in the test situation. Two recent publications which provide guidelines for such reports:
Guidelines for specification of animals and husbandry methods when reporting the results of animal experimentswww.lal.org.uk/pdffiles/gv.pdf
Guidelines for reporting the results of experiments on fish
Ethitex - tissue sharing database
An internet-based fee-for-service system to facilitate the sharing of animal tissue between researchers.