Education Radboud Summer School: preclinical animal studies

About this course

You can learn about ethically justified animal experiments in the Radboud Summer School course Improving the quality of preclinical animal studies using the systematic review methodology.

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About this course

Animal experiments are only ethically justified if they are designed, conducted and analysed in such a way that they produce the most relevant and reliable information. If these conditions are not met, the laboratory animals are in fact wasted. A crucial method to meet these conditions is the so-called systematic review. A systematic review is a structured and transparent method to thoroughly analyse previously conducted studies. In clinical research, systematic reviews are already common practice. In the field of animal experimentation however, systematic reviews are still rather uncommon, even though recent publications have shown that they have several important advantages. Systematic reviews help to improve the methodological quality of animal experiments, they prevent unnecessary (duplication of) experiments and they lead to an evidence-based choice of animal models. Last but not least, they improve the translation of animal data to the clinic, thereby increasing efficacy and safety of treatments in patients.

In this course, you will get an extensive introduction to the concept of systematic reviews of animal studies and to the differences between these review methods and classical reviews. Both the advantages and the limitations of systematic reviews will be discussed.

Systematic reviews typically consist of the following steps:
  • Formulating the review question
  • Conducting a comprehensive search to identify all relevant studies
  • Selecting relevant studies on the basis of explicit inclusion criteria
  • Assessing the methodological quality/validity of the included studies
  • Extracting data and performing a meta-analysis (an overall statistical analysis in which the results of individual studies can be combined)
  • Interpreting the results

During the course, you will practice all these steps. Through this practical experience, you will get a good idea about the added value of systematic reviews and about the possibilities and efforts needed for conducting such a review in your own field of research.

The course will be given by SYRCLE, one of the leading centres specialised in systematic reviews of animal studies in the world. Since 2009, SYRCLE has developed a unique education programme, as well as tools and guidelines to promote and facilitate the conduct of systematic reviews of animal studies.

Learning outcome

After this course you are able to:
  • Explain the most important advantages of and challenges for systematic reviews of animal studies
  • Build a comprehensive search strategy in PubMed
  • Perform and interpret an assessment of the methodological quality of animal studies
  • Perform and interpret a simple meta-analysis of animal studies

Entry level

  • Advanced Bachelor
  • Master
  • PhD
  • Post-doc
  • Professional


You can register for this course here.


Need more info?

Judith van Luijk PhD
+31 (0)24 818 77 06
Project leader training and coaching

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In short

  • Students and (young) professionals directly or indirectly involved in (preclinical) animal-based research.


Radboud Summer School

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Radboud Summer School
Comeniuslaan 4
6525 HP Nijmegen
The Netherlands