AVSTS Research Cooperative


ARC was launched at the AVSTS Spring Meeting, Birmingham, UK, on 3rd April 2013.


ARC aim: “To facilitate the production of good-quality, multi-centre, clinical research of relevance to its membership."


What is ARC?

ARC is a clinical network of like-minded vets, who have the shared aim of working together to produce good-quality, multi-centre, clinical research of relevance to their day-to-day working lives. This network is run by a committee drawn from the ARC membership. If you have skills or experience that you think might help ARC achieve its stated aim, and wish to give your time, please contact Ian Nicholson:


Chair: Stephen Baines stephen.baines@willows.uk.net

Secretary: Mickey Tivers mickey.tivers@bristol.ac.uk

Clinician-scientist: Nick Jeffery njeffery@iastate.edu

Marketing and communications: Juliet Pope julietpope@hotmail.com

Project liaison: TBC

Treasurer: TBC

Fund raising and fund identification: TBC

Ethical review: The Animal Health Trust clinical research ethics committee


How do I join?

Anyone can join – it’s free, and with no obligations. Just email stephen.baines@willow.uk.net and you’ll be included in all ARC’s communications, and the online discussion forum. If you wish to attend AVSTS meetings there is a £20 annual joining fee – for more information about this please explore the AVSTS website.


What does ARC do?

  • Sends out a three-monthly newsletter to its members via email (from May 2016)
  • Runs a meeting-within-a-meeting at the AVSTS Spring and Autumn meetings, for AVSTS and ARC members to be updated about previous projects, for currently-recruiting projects to be advertised, and for new project ideas to be created and refined.
  • Runs an online discussion forum (to start May 2016)
  • Runs a web-page on the AVSTS website (yes, the one you’re reading now), and on social media (coming soon)


How does ARC facilitate multi-centre research?

  • Encourages the creation of new project ideas of interest to ARC members, at meetings and online
  • Refines study ideas at the outset to help make them achievable, interesting, scientifically-robust studies, including the planning of appropriate statistical analysis
  • Provides Ethical Review for studies at centres without their own ethical review panel, and coordinates ethical review amongst centres with their own ethical review panels
  • Seeks to identify funding sources for individual projects, and advertise these to ARC members
  • Launches multi-centre clinical studies and advertises them to its membership and beyond, via email, discussion forum, social media, AVSTS and other meetings, and AVSTS website
  • Helps recruit individual vets, practices and hospitals, and their cases, for current studies
  • Actively promotes each study during the data gathering process
  • Assists with statistical analysis
  • Coordinates multi-author simultaneous review during preparation of manuscript for publication
  • Offers the opportunity for work to be presented at AVSTS meetings
  • Obliges publication of all results


What can I actually do to be involved?

  • Become an ARC member! See above
  • Take an active part in the online discussion forum, and on social media (coming soon)
  • Come to AVSTS meetings and contribute to the discussion
  • Submit an idea to stephen.baines@willows.uk.net for a study you’d like to see done, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to run it yourself – as a general rule, if YOU are interested in something, then so will be a lot of other people. The more ideas the better!
  • Contribute to an existing study by adding your case data (see below)
  • If you are already carrying out a clinical research project yourself, why not use ARC to make it multi-centre? Bigger is better in many ways (more cases, quicker case accumulation) and ARC can take the pain away from the headaches multi-centre studies can bring


How do I come up with a good study idea?

This can be harder than it sounds. There are a number of resources which can help, such as:


KEY POINT!! Use the work of others who have already recently looked and reviewed all the literature for you, identifying nicely the hole that needs to be filled.


Running a project through ARC

Here’s how it works:

  1. Email stephen.baines@willows.uk.net to make first contact with your idea, no matter if it’s just an idea, or if you’ve already advanced the idea well beyond the initial stage
  2. An email conversation will ensue, between you, Ian Nicholson, and Nick Jeffery, to clarify exactly what it is you wish to test or demonstrate, how you wish to do it, and whether these two things match up. This process should allow a specific and realistic project to grow
  3. The project, along with any pilot work you’ve done such as a literature review, and/or using someone else’s systematic review (see above), and/or reviewing your own cases retrospectively, should be presented to the AVSTS members at the next spring or autumn meeting, along with your project plan – to advertise it, and to refine it from audience feedback, plus to gain insight into the case accrual rate from a show of hands as to who sees how many cases of that type.
  4. By the end of this process you will need to fill out/provide:
    1. ARC Application Form Template 
    2. AHT Application for Clinical Research Ethical Approval 
      1. Guidance notes for ethical approval 
    3. A data table template (Excel) for vets to download and fill in their data for you
    4. An owner consent form (if appropriate)
  5. Once the project is green-lighted by the AHT and ARC, the documents above will be emailed to the ARC membership and made available on this website
  6. Depending on the uptake, further promotion may be undertaken as needed, led by the lead author, until the case requirements are met, an appropriate time period has passed, or until it becomes clear that there is insufficient interest or case-load to make the study a success
  7. Once the study stops gathering data the lead author is in charge of coordinating presentation and publication, with help from the ARC Committee, both of which are expected. All vets submitting data are considered as co-authors, provided they continue to participate in every round of manuscript review before submission and whilst under review for an appropriate journal. If they do not wish to continue to contribute to the manuscript they will no longer be considered as co-authors, however their work will be acknowledged in the published manuscript.
  8.  All participants agree to abide by the spirit of the ARC algorithm. In the event of a dispute the decision of the ARC Committee, by majority vote, is final.   


Published ARC projects


Completed ARC projects awaiting publication

  • Chemical analysis of cellophane bands used to attenuate portosystemic shunts in dogs. E. Bowen, G. Chanoit
  • The incidence of surgical site dehiscence following full thickness gastrointestinal biopsies in cats and associated risk factors – an Association for Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgery (AVSTS) Research Cooperative (ARC) multi-centre study. F Swinbourne, N. Jeffery, M. Tivers, L. Rutherford, B. de la Puerta, J. Hughes, J. Hall, R. Hattersley, T. Charlesworth, S. Woods, A. Freeman, T. Ryan, R. Burrow, I. Doran, H. Brissot, R. Artingstall, F. Bird, J. Henken, I. Nicholson
  • Grading of small animal surgical complications using a modified Clavien-Dindo classification system – an Association for Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgery (AVSTS) Research Cooperative (ARC) study. I. Nicholson, F Swinbourne, M. Tivers, B. de la Puerta, T. Charlesworth, S. Woods, A. Freeman, T. Ryan, R. Artingstall, R. Hattersley, J. Hall, N. Jeffery


Projects currently recruiting cases

Please direct any questions to the lead author via their email address. The project summary and ethical review form are available for review, just click on the links below. If you have case data to submit either contact the lead author to discuss this, or download the data table template via the link and send the lead author the completed table.


Please email stephen.baines@willows.uk.net with comments and suggestions, constructive criticism and project ideas, or applications. Looking forward to hearing from you!