Guidelines for completing the application form
- 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.
- Please answer all questions on the form, even if only to indicate they are not applicable. As noted on the application form itself, incomplete applications will be returned without consideration by the Committee.
- 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
1.1 Title of project
When possible use "plain English". However, a more technically-phrased title that matches the title of a grant application is also acceptable.
1.2 Name and designation of Senior Investigator
The Senior Investigator must be an employee of the University of Sydney and preferably a person with an academic appointment.
Under NSW law, the Senior Investigator takes prime responsibility for the ethical conduct of the project.
Ordinarily, the Senior 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 Senior 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 and submitted.
1.4 - 1.5 Commencement and completion dates
Please submit your application more than a month (preferably two months) before your planned starting date.
There has been an ongoing problem in co-ordinating the AEC approval dates with the span of grant funding. Many researchers want approval to conduct initial studies to take to NH&MRC interviews that occur in the year before a grant commences.
Accordingly, it would be convenient if the AEC could grant approval for four years rather than three years. Under law, however, approval is formally allowed for only one year, but the state government allows AECs to give approval for three years subject to annual review. Approvals beyond three years without a full renewal application are not permitted. At present, there is no way out of this dilemma.
2.1 Aims of the project in lay terms
This section is crucial in assessing the scientific merit and the necessity of animal use.
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 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.
2.3 - 2.4 Reasons for animal use
Alternatives to using animals must be investigated and used wherever possible. The AEC must be informed of alternatives that exist and why these cannot be used.
2.7 - 2.8 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.
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.
3A.1 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.
It is very important that you provide all the relevant information and answer the questions as fully as possible. The checklist that accompanies the form will help you in this.
3A.3 - 3A.6 Monitoring
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.
See a monitoring template
3A.6 - 3A.11 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.
3A.12 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.
3A.14 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.
Make sure all required signatures, including all the investigators and Head of School, are obtained. 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.
3B.2 Technical competence
Explain whether experience is relevant to the species used as well as type and length (years) of experience.
At the end of the application, you will find an extensive list of items that should be considered in filling in your application.This list is not a formal part of the application.