Information on seeking peer review for protocols involving animals in research

Peer Review

The Animal Care and Ethics Committee (ACEC) has been established within the University in accordance with the NSW Animal Research Act (1985) and its Regulations (1995).

The ACEC is directed by legislation to approve only those studies for which animals are essential and justified and which conform to the requirements of the legislation, taking into consideration factors including ethics, the impact on the animal or animals and the anticipated scientific or educational value.

A research protocol involving the use of animals will not conform to the requirements of the NSW legislation if the aims, purpose and design of that protocol are not scientifically valid.

The membership of the ACEC is such that it may not be able to adequately examine these aspects of every application. Nevertheless, the Committee is able to accept the scientific or educational value of applications describing work that has been subjected to critical, rigorous and independent peer review by suitably qualified bodies or persons, whether a funding body, independent persons, or institutional committee or panel.


Resources


Procedures for obtaining peer review of an application for animal ethics approval

Applicants must complete the relevant sections of the application form to provide evidence of peer review via one of the following processes:

  1. Peer review by competitive research funding body
  2. Peer review by independent persons
  3. Peer review by peer review committee/panel 

1. Peer review by competitive research funding body

This process can be used only for funded projects.

If the animal studies described in the funding application do not correspond exactly to that described in the animal ethics application, including experimental groups and animal numbers, independent peer review will be required for the additional animal studies described in the animal ethics application.

Please note: If the reports received from the funding body peer reviewers support the scientific merit of the project, these reports may be submitted for consideration by the ACEC in the following situations:

  • If the funding process has not yet been completed at the time of submission of the animal ethics application.
  • If the funding application was unsuccessful.

2. Peer review via independent persons

When obtaining independent peer review, applicants must:

  • Provide a copy of their application to one peer reviewer, together with any other information necessary to enable adequate review of the project.
  • Choose a senior, experienced researcher.
  • Choose a reviewer who is sufficiently expert in the field to provide adequate peer review.
  • Choose a reviewer who is independent of their research group or team and independent of the research project.
  • Ensure that the reviewer completes the pro forma peer review report (DOC 16 KB) developed by the ACEC for use by reviewers.
  • Request the reviewer to forward their report directly to the ACEC Committee via email .
  • Ensure the timely submission of the animal ethics application and the report from peer reviewer, so that consideration of approval is not unduly delayed.

Please note: To facilitate this process: The applicant may attach to this application, the report from the peer reviewer, AND the response to any matters raised by the peer reviewer. In this case, the applicant should ensure that, where relevant, all issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of the peer reviewer and that the application has been revised prior to submission.

3. Peer review by peer review committee/panel

This process is performed in accordance with the policy approved by the University Academic Senate "Peer Review of Research Proposals Submitted for Ethics Approval - Procedure 000800".

Via this peer review process, the Chairperson or representative of the peer review committee or panel must confirm that:

  • The proposal has been peer reviewed by experienced researchers in the field of study who are independent of the research and the researchers.
  • The aims of the research are clearly identified and scientifically sound.
  • The research proposal is well designed and methodologically sound.
  • The research procedures are appropriate to the aims of the research.
  • The statistical design of the experiments is appropriate.
  • The choice of animal species, number of animals, source of animals and quality of animals (e.g. microbiological status) is appropriate.
  • If the research is conducted according to the protocol, it is expected to yield valid and useful data.
  • The researcher(s) has the necessary expertise to conduct the research and perform the procedures/techniques required by the research, and
  • Where relevant, all issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of the peer reviewers.

If you have any questions regarding the Peer Review Process, please contact the Animal Ethics Officer.