Guidelines for Authors


Note to authors: Laboratory Animals has recently adoped the Vancouver style of referencing. As this is different from the referencing used until the October 2008 issue of the journal, please check these guidelines and your manuscript very carefully before you submit your paper. Authors will be asked to amend their references to fit these guidelines before any paper will be accepted for publication.

For details of benefits offered to RSM Press authors, please visit our benefits page.

For details of our policy on depositing articles in institutional or central repositories, please visit our archiving page.

For details of our policy on open access articles, please visit our RSM Open page.

For referee guidelines, please visit our referee page.

These instructions comply with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (for further details, see the ICMJE site)

1. Aims and scope
Laboratory Animals publishes a diverse range of papers dealing with both the use of animals and their management in biomedical research consistent with the aims of Laboratory Animals Limited “to promote education and training in laboratory animal science”. The journal considers manuscripts reporting replacement, reduction and refinement, collectively termed the “3Rs”, but particularly focuses on those findings which either refine protocols involving animal models or can improve future experimental designs. Articles will therefore inform the journal’s readership about the practical application of 3Rs and therefore report on incremental improvements in the ethical use of animals in biomedical research. This extends to findings and observations which enhance the understanding of laboratory animal welfare, microbiology and the environment of laboratory animal facilities. Clinical case reports or studies in laboratory animals are also considered. Papers consolidating or reporting background data on the use of animals in particular fields such as toxicology are welcomed when the data can be broadly applied in the discipline.

2. Editorial policy
Covering letter

The covering letter is important to help the Editor in the preliminary evaluation of manuscripts and should indicate the compelling reason to progress the manuscript through peer review to publication. The covering letter for revisions to conditionally accepted manuscripts should indicated how the revised manuscript addresses comments arising during the review process.

Peer review

All contributions are reviewed by independent referees, and the final decision on acceptance or rejection remains with the Editorial Board.

Ethical approval and other ethical considerations

All research submitted for publication must be approved by an ethics committee with oversight of the facility in which the studies were conducted.

Papers will only be published if the experimental procedures employed conform with the accepted principles of how animals are used in biomedical science. Usually the principles applied will be those specified in the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes and its appendices and/or the National Research Council Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

If the experimental design or programme of work reported in the manuscript raises particular ethical or welfare concerns, the Editorial Board will consider the current UK legislation Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and its contemporary interpretation.

Animals, materials and methods

The journal requires detailed information on the animals and their conditions of husbandry (see Laboratory Animals 1985;19:106–108). The methodology for the euthanasia of animals should be consistent with recommendations in previously published reports (see Laboratory Animals 1996;30:293–316 and 1997;31:1–32). The protocols and studies involving fish should be reported in the manner detailed in Laboratory Animals 2000;34:131–135.

Of particular note, the source and full strain nomenclature of any laboratory animal stock must be specified (see Abbreviations and Conventions below) according to international recommendations. Authors should note this information is available from source laboratories and animal vendors. A brief statement describing the legislative controls on animal care and use should be provided. Measures to refine experimental techniques to benefit animal welfare can be described in detail and the disposition and fate of the animals at the end of the experiment should be clear. Products used (e.g. drugs, equipment, feed, bedding) should be described in the format “generic description (trade name, vendor name, city and country where vendor located)”.

The experimental design and the statistical analysis should be detailed, particularly in relation to using only the appropriate numbers of animals (see Festing M et al. The Design of Animal Experiments: Reducing the use of animals in research through better experimental design, available on the RSM Press website. Pre-test power analyses should be presented in justification of sample size or number of animals required whenever possible. Power analyses for many common statistical procedures both parametric and non-parametric are given in Zar J. Biostatistical Analysis, 4th edn. When reporting variability about the mean, variances, and/or discussing significance or non-significance of statistically derived values, the Zar recommendations should be considered, and claims of statistical non-significance should be accompanied by post-test power analyses whenever possible.

Competing interests and other declarations

All authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest when submitting papers for publication. A guarantor and a statement of contributorship are also required. The source(s) of grant support, equipment and drugs should be included. Only those who made substantial contributions to the study and/or preparation of the paper should be acknowledged.


All previously published material must be accompanied by the written consent to reproduction of the copyright holder. An acknowledgement of permission should be included at the relevant point in the paper, and a full reference to the original place of publication should be included in the reference list.


The authors of papers accepted for publication will be required to assign copyright to Laboratory Animals Ltd, and a form for this purpose will accompany the proofs.

3. Types of articles
Working Group Reports

Articles describing the recommendations or conclusions from working parties or groups mandated by one or more subscribing associations. These should be up to 7500 words and with less than 50 references, including an Abstract. A hyperlink to additional information or the full deliberations of the Working Group will be accommodated and hosted as supplementary information on the journal website. All cited members of working parties will be considered as authors for the purposes of copyright.

Review Articles

Articles of a substantial and topical nature. Review Articles are generally invited and the Editor may be contacted by prospective authors to verify our interest in any proposed manuscript.

Original Articles

Articles describing substantial original research that falls within the aims and scope of the journal. These should be up to 5500 words, include an Abstract, and have no more than six figures and tables though papers reporting background data may have more than six figures and tables. Structured headings are required and must include: Introduction; Animals, Material and Methods; Results; Discussion; Acknowledgements, References. The abstract must be unstructured and consist of a single paragraph with less than 250 words. Specific allowance is made in the 5500 word limit to permit authors to describe the detailed information requested about animals, their conditions of husbandry and any associated refinements in the experimental design which contributed to improved animal welfare. The contribution of the findings to improving replacement, reduction or refinement should be explicit in at least one paragraph of the discussion.

Short Reports

Technical notes and preliminary communications with adequate methodological details and conclusions. Case reports or case studies will be considered though cases should have significant original observations and be of broad relevance to the field. These should be less than 1500 words, including an Abstract of less than 200 words, and have no more than two figures or tables. There should be no structured headings. This type of article is also designed to encourage the submission of reports on reduction and refinement of animal use of relevance to practicioners in the field.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor will be considered for publication but only on issues related to the scientific or ethical content of the journal, and authors will be given the opportunity to publish a reply to any letters.

Notes & Comments and Book Reviews

News items for the Notes and Comments section (one copy only) and books for review should be sent to: Lucy Whitfield, Notes and Comments Editor, Laboratory Animals, c/o RSM Press Limited, 1 Wimpole Street, London W1G 0AE; email: [email protected]. Email contact is preferred.

4. How to submit a manuscript
Only manuscripts submitted via the online manuscript submission and peer review site, which can be found at, will be considered for publication. Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the guidelines below.

All submissions must be in English and of a good grammatical standard. We recommend authors with a first language other than English request an English speaking colleague to review their manuscript prior to publication. The Editor can recommend a commercial editorial service specialised in the field if prospective authors require.

Tables and figures may be submitted as separate files, in which case the files should be uploaded in the following order: (1) main text, including title page, abstract and references; (2) tables; (3) figures; (4) supplementary files; and (5) author proforma.

File formats

Text files must be saved in .doc or .rtf format. Other suitable formats include .tif for photographic images, .xls for graphs produced in Excel, and .eps for other line drawings.

5. How to prepare a manuscript

Manuscripts must be submitted using double line-spaced, unjustified and line numbered text throughout, with headings and subheadings in bold case. Press ‘Enter’ only at the end of a paragraph, list entry or heading. The line numbering of text must start at the abstract, must continue throughout the entire text and must not re-start at the top of each page. The revisions to a manuscript should be highlighted or the “track changes” functionality in a word processing application must be used to make the revision readily apparent and consistent with the cover letter to the revision.

Title page

The first page should contain the full title of the manuscript, a short title, the initials and last names of all the authors and their and affiliations, the department(s) and the institution(s) where the work was carried out; and the name, postal and email addresses and telephone and fax number of the author responsible for all communications about the manuscript and proofs.

The title should be concise, informative and must not be unnecessarily punctuated. The short title should be no more than six words long.


An unstructured abstract of no more than 250 words (or no more than 200 words for Short Reports) and a list of up to five key words must accompany all Working Group Reports, Review Articles, Original Articles, and Short Reports. Letters to the Editor do not require an abstract. Ideally one of the key words should be replacement, reduction or refinement.


The first heading after the Abstract (usually Introduction) is omitted. Where appropriate, the remainder of the paper should be arranged under the headings Animals, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgements, References.


Tables must be prepared using the Table feature of the word processor. Tables should not duplicate information given in the text, should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text, and should be given a brief title. Tables should each appear on a separate page at the end of the manuscript as part of the text file. Vertical rules and/or background shading should not be used. The legend of a table should be concise and enable the reader to understand the data without excessive reference to the text.


All figures should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text. All figures must be accompanied by a figure legend. If figures are supplied in separate files, the figure legends must all be listed at the end of the main text file.

Line drawings should be produced electronically and clearly labelled using a sans serif font such as Arial. Graphs may be supplied as Excel spreadsheets (one per sheet). Other line drawings should be supplied in a suitable vector graphic file format (e.g. .eps)

All photographic images should be submitted in camera-ready form (i.e. with all extraneous areas removed), and where necessary, magnification should be shown using a scale marker. Photographic images must be supplied at high resolution, preferably 600 dpi. Images supplied at less than 300 dpi are unsuitable for print and will delay publication. The preferred file format is .tif.


Only essential references should be included. Authors are responsible for verifying them against the original source material. RSM Press uses the Vancouver referencing system: references should be identified in the text by superscript Arabic numerals after any punctuation, and numbered and listed at the end of the paper in the order in which they are first cited in the text. Automatic numbering should be avoided. References should include the names and initials of up to six authors. If there are more than six authors, only the first three should be named, followed by et al. Publications for which no author is apparent may be attributed to the organization from which they originate. Simply omit the name of the author for anonymous journal articles – avoid using ’Anonymous’. Punctuation in references should be kept to a minimum, as shown in the following examples:

  1. Festing MFW, Overend P, Gaines Das R, Cortina Borja M, Berdoy M. Reducing the Use of Animals in Research through Better Experimental Design. London: RSM Press, 2002
  2. Francis RCE, Reyle-Hahn MS, Höhne C, et al. The haemodynamic and catecholamine response to xenon/remifentanil anaesthesia in Beagle dogs. Lab Anim 2008;42:338–349


Symbols and abbreviations should be those currently in use. Authors should not create new abbreviations and acronyms. The RSM’s book Units, Symbols and Abbreviations provides lists of approved abbreviations. References to animal strains should be in accordance with current nomenclature. For reference, use The International Index of Laboratory Animals, 6th edn (Festing M, 1993); the Mouse Genome database and the Rat Genome Database.


All measurements should be expressed in SI units.


If preparing statistical data for publication, please read the statistical guidelines.

6. Proofs and eprints
Proofs will be sent by email to the designated corresponding author as a PDF file attachment and should be corrected and returned promptly; corrections should be kept to a minimum.

A PDF eprint of each published article will be supplied free of charge to the author for correspondence; hardcopy offprints may be ordered from the publisher when the proofs are returned.