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STANDARDS OF EVIDENCE IN ANIMAL RESEARCH


The gold standard on experimental evidence for the effectiveness of an intervention is the randomized, controlled trial.


Randomization is random assignment of subjects to treatment groups or to placebo control groups. A control group contains subjects who have received everything but the hypothesized effective treatment and in exactly the same ways, times, and places (e.g., a sugar pill administered just like a medicinal pill, or blank ammunition (no projectile beyond a few feet from the muzzle of a gun) shot at an animal rather than lethal ammunition). Randomization is widely considered the most important step in eliminating bias because random assignment eliminates the most prevalent and pervasive bias in experiments, referred to as selection bias. Controls are considered essential to making reliable inferences about the effect of a treatment because change is ubiquitous. Placebo control subjects will change as will those treated, so detecting the effect of treatment against a background of ubiquitous and confounding changes requires a careful comparison of the treated group to the control group.


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