How to complete the application form

General points

  • Applications should be written in plain English, suitable for an interested, educated person from the general community. Applications written in the language of the specialist (i.e. like a grant application) are problematic.
  • Applications should be submitted for projects rather than for each experiment or separate procedure.
  • Projects are normally approved for a maximum period of three years provided no significant modifications are made to the approved protocol.
  • State legislation requires that all projects be reviewed by the AEC on an annual basis. Researchers will be required to provide a brief, annual progress report for their projects.
  • A complete application for renewal of a project must be submitted at the end of three years if it is to be continued.
  • By law, researchers are required to have ethical permission to breed animals for use in research. Applications for breeding to the AEC use the same form as research applications. Animal numbers in breeding applications must be carefully justified relatively to existing approved research protocols or research protocol applications.

Tips for completing specific questions


Lay summary of the project

A brief overview (no more than 100 words) which offers a brief description and outlines the key aims of the project.

Project title

When possible use "plain English". However, a more technically-phrased title that matches the title of a grant application is also acceptable.

Chief Investigator details

The Chief Investigator must be an employee of the University of Sydney and preferably a person with an academic appointment.

Under NSW law, the Chief Investigator takes prime responsibility for the ethical conduct of the project.

Ordinarily, the Chief Investigator is closely involved with a project, and there is no doubt about that person's responsibility. Where students are using animals in a teaching and/or research program, the Chief Investigator has responsibility to ensure that students carry out procedures and conduct themselves in an ethical manner. Acceptance of this responsibility is implicit when the application is signed off electronically within IRMA.


Following submission of a completed application an e-mail will be sent to each individual listed on the protocol, this includes, Chief Investigator, Head of Department/School, Animal House Supervisor, if relevant and all Co-Investigators listed on the protocol coversheet. This will request that they log onto IRMA and provide electronic signoff/approval of the protocol within the My Approvals tab.

If the Head of School is an investigator in the project, a counter signature is required by a senior academic not involved in the project.

The application will only be assigned for AEC review once the Chief Investigator, Head of Department/School and, if required, Animal House Supervisor have all completed their on line sign off in IRMA. Once this has occurred the application will be assigned to an AEC member for review and comment prior to consideration at the AEC meeting.

The co-investigators listed on the application will also need to provide their online sign off prior to a notification of the meeting outcome being issued.

Reminder e-mails will be sent to any outstanding signatories.


Location of animals used in the protocol

Please note that due to the limitations of IRMA if you confirm that animals will be located outside of NSW you will automatically be asked to provide a yes/no answer for each state and territory.

As the requirements for reporting vary for each state and territory you are required to select a primary purpose for the protocol for each state or territory where you will conduct research.

Briefly describe the aims of the protocol in scientific terms

This section is crucial in assessing the scientific merit and the necessity of animal use.

In this section please provide justification for the use of animals also include details such as background, benefits, and the purpose/aims of the research. Also include any details as to how this protocol integrates with other studies (in vitro or in vivo).

The level of details should fall between broad generalities, e.g. "this project will delineate the mechanisms of neural conduction as they pertain to Alzheimer's disease" and an exposition of the intricacies of the project's empirical and theoretical background.

Many applicants have trouble expressing the aims and purposes of their project. Some researchers give a brief abstract that would be suitable for a journal but is mystifying to the committee. Other researchers go to the other extreme and give an extensive background found in a grant application, which also mystifies the committee.

The aims and significance of most projects can be explained in less than approximately half a page of plain English. When addressing this issue, think about the style of English you would use if you were explaining your project on an ABC science show.

Please provide an explanation of why animals are needed in this protocol

Alternatives to using animals must be investigated and used wherever possible. Please outline how the 3Rs have been applied when developing the protocol. The AEC must be informed of alternatives that exist and why these cannot be used.

Number of Animals

The number of animals should be adequate to achieve reliable results, either in terms of sufficient statistical power or in terms of replication across experiments.

Please include any statistical calculations and details of experimental design, including group sizes, replicates, repeats, and time points that have been used to determine the total number of animals required for the study.

The AEC recognises that some projects require hundreds and even thousands of animals. Where a large number of animals is required, the applicant should take special care in this item in showing how the number of animals relates to the number of experimental and control conditions.

Re-use of animals

There is no direct prohibition against using animals that have been used in previous research. However, the NSW Animal Research Act and its Regulation require that proposals for re-use of animals be closely scrutinized.

Re-use will be authorised when it reduces the number of animals bred for research and when the previous research was relatively innocuous, e.g. reward training, behavioural observation, and drawing of blood samples.

Sequence of events

The Committee often has difficulty discerning the sequence of events that occurs to the animals, particularly when there are different groups of animals receiving different treatments.

Accordingly, please list the procedures in sequence. Flow charts and other diagrams are very helpful to the committee. If there are several groups of animals that receive different combinations of treatments, please list them in tabular form and include the number of animals in each group.

Where appropriate, SOPs may be referenced and provided as attachments.


It is very important that you provide all the relevant information and answer the questions in as much detail as possible.

Identify all factors and procedures that may have an impact on an animal's well-being for example, handling, housing, as well as specific experimental procedures. Describe each factor or procedure and how any adverse impact will be minimised. Details should also include treatment substances, dose rates, routes of administration, anaesthetic and analgesia regimes if applicable.

Please refer to the checklist available here on the animal ethics website, to ensure all details have been considered.


The level of monitoring required will vary according to the type of research and animals used. Some of this information may have already been provided in answer to the question on impact but it should be reiterated for the assistance of the committee. Details should include methods used and frequency of monitoring. A monitoring sheet appropriate for the study should be provided by uploading at the 'Documents' tab.

See a monitoring template

Animal housing and management

Standards of animal housing and management can have a significant impact on animal well-being and thus on experimental results. It is therefore important that a full description of housing is provided.

Please also list the room number(s) and building details.

Source of animals

Under the legislation, non-exempt animals must be obtained from a licensed animal supplier. Issues such as capture of wild animals or obtaining animals from remote sources that will necessitate prolonged transport will also need to be considered by the committee and the answer should be as complete as possible.

Technical competence

Explain whether experience is relevant to the species used as well as type and length (years) of experience.