General information on the 3Rs

3Rs Self-Assessment and Resources

To promote the implementation of the 3R principles, the UK’s NC3R centre has interactive self-assessment tools as well as other resource to help researchers make informed decisions about environmental enrichment for animals. Various conference reports, guidelines and 3R resources are available, which are free, promoting responsible and ethical practices.

The University of Nottingham has published a presentation on Searching for Information on 3Rs and 3Rs Resources. Before conducting any animal study, researchers should examin the available literature on the research question.  The Dutch National Committee has developed an approach based on the application of Synthesis of Evidence method to prevent unnecessary animal use. The EC's Joint Research Centre has compiled an inventory of knowledge sources potentially relevant to the 3Rsserving as a starting point for further analysis of knowledge sharing strategies.

Other useful information is available from the UK’s NC3R centre, the Danish 3R centre, the Swedish 3R centre, FELASA, FRAME, ECVAM, NORECOPA, AAALAC, AWIC, ETPLAS, RAT and the European Commission.

For those wishing to exchange animal tissues and organs, the following resources are available:

Experimental Design and Research Integrity

Understanding proper experimental design and statistical analysis is essential to enhance the quality of animal research and prevent unnecessary use of animals. Free tools are available to help ensure robust design. Universities are encouraged to promote a culture of research integrity to ensure responsible conduct and ethical oversight, avoiding the need for experimental replications. The impact of formulation should also be considered.

Furthermore, the translatability of knowledge from animal studies to human diseases needs to be considered. Emphasising harm-benefit analysis, researchers are encouraged to adopt appropriate severity assessment processes (see below) . The use of genetically-modified (GM) animals is governed by guidelines to ensure quality and efficiency. Alternative in vivo tools for immune-oncology screening, enable improved research outcomes while reducing animal use.

Animal Studies and Reporting

Researchers are encouraged to plan their studies using the PREPARE (Planning Research and Experimental Procedures on Animals: Recommendations for Excellence) guidelines. They should also participate in animal-specific study registries such as those established in the Netherlands
and Germany.  Additionally, researches should consider the impact of sex differences in biological research to prevent sex bias, while an aseptic technique for any surgery is necessary.

Animal Welfare Bodies and Ethical Review

For the successful functioning of ethical review and Animal Welfare Bodies, the RSPCA and other organisations offer comprehensive resources, including guidelines for lay members as well as scientists. Adherence to guidelines such as ARRIVE and HARRP ensures transparency and accountability in animal based studies. Animal Welfare Bodies also have a role in sharing knowledge and refinement information, as well as in creating and maintaining a culture of care. Advice on the latter is available below:

Focus on Severe Suffering, Humane Endpoints, Anaesthesia and Euthanasia

When animals for research or regulatory purpose, it is crucial to address severe suffering. The RSPCA’s ‘Focus on Severe Suffering’ initiative offers valuable insights and suggests practical approaches to reduce or eliminate such suffering. Published guidance is available on how to assign severity and the severity assessment process.

The following papers are recommended for these specific models: 

Humane endpoints ensure that animals are not at risk of unnecessary suffering, and are an essential tool for refining animal studies. Useful information is available on the choice of anaesthesia and on the anaesthesia of laboratory animals. Guidelines for euthanasia of animals developed for an American veterinary audience might also be relevant for those carrying out euthanasia in Ireland.


Please note that while this website provides valuable information, it may contain links to external websites beyond the control of the HPRA. The inclusion of links does not imply the endorsement of the HPRA of any opinions expressed.