PLOS Biology | VOL. 20

Systematic assessment of the replicability and generalizability of preclinical findings: Impact of protocol harmonization across laboratory sites

Publication Date Nov 23, 2022


The influence of protocol standardization between laboratories on their replicability of preclinical results has not been addressed in a systematic way. While standardization is considered good research practice as a means to control for undesired external noise (i.e., highly variable results), some reports suggest that standardized protocols may lead to idiosyncratic results, thus undermining replicability. Through the EQIPD consortium, a multi-lab collaboration between academic and industry partners, we aimed to elucidate parameters that impact the replicability of preclinical animal studies. To this end, 3 experimental protocols were implemented across 7 laboratories. The replicability of results was determined using the distance travelled in an open field after administration of pharmacological compounds known to modulate locomotor activity (MK-801, diazepam, and clozapine) in C57BL/6 mice as a worked example. The goal was to determine whether harmonization of study protocols across laboratories improves the replicability of the results and whether replicability can be further improved by systematic variation (heterogenization) of 2 environmental factors (time of testing and light intensity during testing) within laboratories. Protocols were tested in 3 consecutive stages and differed in the extent of harmonization across laboratories and standardization within laboratories: stage 1, minimally aligned across sites (local protocol); stage 2, fully aligned across sites (harmonized protocol) with and without systematic vari...


Extent Of Harmonization Local Protocol Consistent Treatment Effects Good Research Practice Systematic Variation Standardized Protocol Time Of Testing Laboratory Sites Consecutive Stages Independent Replicate

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