How to include animal use in your application - BBSRC

This page explains how to include information about animal use in your Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system application.

Proposals involving animal use

Applicants should provide adequate justification of their choice of experimental design, numbers of animals being used and interventions. It is important that sufficient information is provided concerning methodological issues including, but not limited to, the following:

  • the avoidance of bias, for example, randomisation and blinding and how this will be carried out
  • a clear definition of the experimental unit in the analysis and implications thereof (that is, there is a difference between N samples from one animal, as distinct from one sample from each of N animals, or combining samples from multiple animals)
  • a principled justification of the adequacy of the numbers of animals to be included to be able to minimise the likelihood of spurious results due to the play of chance alone
  • where animals are used in multiple types of experimental approach within a single application (for example, for tissue supply, pilot experiments or more defined preclinical studies), exemplars for these types of experiment should be provided
  • the number of different time points at which measurements will be made on each animal
  • a description of the statistical analysis methods that is planned to be used, explaining how they relate to the experimental design and showing that they are appropriate for the types of data that will be collected. Power calculations or justification of why they are appropriate (or not) should also be provided
  • an indication of the number of independent replications of each experiment to be performed with the objective of minimising the likelihood of spurious nonreplicable results. If there are no plans for studies to be independently verified within the current proposal then this will need to be justified

Je-S section on ‘animal research’

Within this section, researchers must give details of any procedures categorised as moderate or severe. This is so the assessment of the proposal can balance the importance of the potential scientific advancement to the welfare of the animals.

Je-S section on ’animal species’

Within this section, researchers must provide sound scientific reasons for the use of animals and an explanation as to why there are no realistic alternatives, with an explanation of how the choice of species complies with ASPA.

In all cases, applicants whose applications include the use of animals must ensure that their proposal clearly sets out and fully justifies the following:

  • research objectives and how the knowledge generated will advance the field
  • the need to use animals and lack of realistic alternative
  • choice of species and type of animals, for example strain, pathogen free, genetically modified
  • planned experimental design and its justification
  • the numbers of animals and frequency of measurements or interventions to be used
  • primary outcomes to be assessed

Researchers are required to provide a properly constructed justification of how the proposed animal numbers to be used were determined. In general, it would be expected that professional statistical advice will be sought in putting this section together.

In many instances this section will include statistical power calculations based on justifiable and explicit assumptions about the anticipated size of the experimental effects. If statistical power calculations are not given, it is expected that applicants should provide a principled explanation to the choice of numbers. In general, explanations based solely in terms of ‘usual practice’ will not be considered adequate.

Je-S section on ‘resources: animal costs’

The costs of both the animals themselves and their maintenance may be requested, and should be listed in this section. These costs may be shown as either directly incurred costs or directly allocated based on how the costs are recorded. Applications must include a breakdown of animal costs, including weekly maintenance charges in the Je-S application.

Applicants considering the use of animals from commercial suppliers should, where possible, use UK suppliers, to minimise the risk of suffering during transport. For cats, dogs and primates, Home Office approved suppliers must be used. Applicants planning research using rhesus macaques should obtain these from the Centre for Macaques (CFM) at Porton Down.

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Case for support proposal attachment

The scientific rationale for the experimental design and the choice of animal model and experimental plans should be detailed. It is essential that a clear case is made to how the chosen design will enable the stated objectives of the study to be achieved.

Justification of resources proposal attachment

A detailed justification of the animal costs incurred should be given in this section. This should detail the animal costs requested, and may outline any breeding programmes, if appropriate to support the number of animals required. No experimental or statistical details should be provided in this section.

Genetically altered animals

If the research involves human subjects, genetically modified organisms, or any other sensitive or dangerous materials, work must not commence until approval has been received from the appropriate Local Ethical Committee or other appropriate authority.

Where experiments involve genetically altered animals, applicants should refer to the report of GA mice working group ‘Assessing the welfare of genetically altered mice’.

Last updated: 1 June 2023

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