Information for Researchers on Applications to Animal Ethics Committees


If you are working with animals in New Zealand for research or teaching then it is likely that you will need to apply for Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) approval. Information about legislation and requirements to meet can be found in the Guide to the Animal Welfare Act published by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Ten top tips for animal ethics application success

Preparing ethical approval applications can be a challenging exercise for many researchers. Many proposals are sent back to applicants for modification before approval can be granted. To assist researchers in the preparation of animal ethics applications the University of Melbourne has produced a brochure, based on an analysis of past AEC decisions, to provide some helpful advice.ANZCCART (NZ) has reviewed this document and strongly endorses its use by the New Zealand research community.
The document covers the following 10 topics:
1. Writing with purpose in mind
2. Writing for a non-scientific audience
3. Providing a clear narrative and chronology
4. Including and reconciling scientific information
5. Justifying and minimising animal numbers
6. Assembling the right team
7. Piloting and/or staging the project
8. Monitoring and documenting the animals
9. Getting surgery and pain management right
10. Making the endpoint clear

The brochure can be downloaded at the following link.

When you are drafting your animal ethics application you need to consider each of the points listed above. In addition to demonstrating good experimental design and sound reasoning for conducting your work, you will also need to demonstrate that you can meet the normal husbandry requirements for the animal including providing food, shelter, warmth, safety and space to behave normally (the RNZSPCA’s Five Freedoms). Lastly, you need to show that you have considered the Three Rs animal welfare principles in your experimental design.