After you've applied
Who approves it?
How are applications assessed?
In assessing an animal research application, the AEC reviews your application and considers the scientific merit of your work and the impact on, and wellbeing of, the animals including monitoring and care.
Does the research justify the use of animals at all? This question applies to all projects, even when they entail little risk of pain or distress to the animals. The underlying principle here is that poorly-conducted research is unethical even if it involves no harm to the animals. Key issues here concern:
- the general scientific justification of the project
- the justification of interventions involving stress or pain (these are subjected to particularly close scrutiny by the committee)
- the experience of the investigators with the animals and procedure
- whether the number of animals yields adequate statistical power and/or replication
Impact on the animals
Most of the chief concerns of the committee relate to this question.
Typical issues include:
- whether appropriate housing and husbandry are being used
- the use of appropriate types and doses of anaesthetic
- the use of appropriate post-operative analgesia
- plans for veterinary emergencies
- the use of appropriate euthanasia
Adequacy of monitoring
The issue of monitoring is vitally important to the AEC. Unfortunately, some applications skim over the issues of monitoring in a few words and then spend a page on the fine details of assay on tissue taken from the animal. Issues to address include:
- routine husbandry (e.g. are the animals' receiving adequate food and water at all times?)
- early detection of identified threats to animals' welfare (e.g., possible morbidity from a tumor?)
- unexpected threats to animals' welfare (e.g. infection in the animal colony?)
- the use of monitoring sheets and other procedures for assessing animal welfare
- the frequency of monitoring following procedures that impact on animal welfare
Possible outcomes from a meeting
After consideration by the AEC, your application will be allocated to one of the following categories:
- A: Approved
- A (conditional administrative): Approved, subject to minor administrative conditions.
- A (chair): Approved, in principle, pending further information to be reviewed and approved by the AEC Chair.
- B: Approval deferred - further information requested, to be reviewed by the AEC Executive.
- C: Approval of the project has not been given due to significant ethical issues, missing information or request for major alterations to aspects of the project. A revised application must be re-submitted to the AEC for a full review.
- D: The AEC found major ethical and/or scientific issues with the work. A complete revision of the project is required and a new application resubmitted. A meeting of the applicant with the AEC Chair and/or the Animal Welfare Manager is required before resubmitting the application.
What if I am asked to make changes or do not receive approval?
- Approval may be pending receipt of other approvals or further information, or clarification may be required. Depending on the outcome, you will need to meet any conditions determined by the AEC.
- You may be asked to supply further information for further review by the AEEC or AEC.
- You may be invited to have an informal discussion with the AEC chair. The AEC is very open to discussion and may encourage you to attend a meeting to discuss your research.
Please note that commercial applications are required to pay an administration fee of $2500 +GST.