All Open University (OU) research involving animals is reviewed by the OU Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body (AWERB), which advises, and reports to, the OU Establishment Licence Holder. The AWERB is responsible for reviewing all research proposals involving ‘Protected animals’ as defined under Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). This includes research that requires a Home Office licence and non-licenced research, such as research on animals’ interaction with their environments and on the use of technology to improve the lives of animals and humans. The OU AWERB, originally the Animal Ethics Advisory Group (AEAG), was one of the first such committees established in the UK. The purpose of the OU’s AWERB is to ensure that:
The AWERB has a broad membership and includes the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO); the Named Information Officer (NIO); the Named Training and Competency Officer (NTCO); and the Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS); animal technicians; scientists; and academics with expertise in ethics and statistics. In accordance with the Laboratory Animal Science Association/RSPCA Guiding Principles on good practice for Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Bodies, the AWERB membership comprises members “who do not have responsibilities under ASPA, as well as one or more persons who are independent of the establishment”.
If you are an OU academic or postgraduate research student, who is planning to carry out animal research which will require a Home Office Project Licence (PPL), please contact the Biomedical Research Unit Manager, in the first instance, for guidance on the ethical review process. When applying for a Home Office licence, advice and guidance is also available from the OU Named Veterinary Surgeon and an external animal welfare expert.
If you are an OU academic or postgraduate research student who is planning to carry out non-licensed animal research, please complete the AWERB application for unlicensed research involving animals and return to it Research Ethics.
Please note that the AWERB includes lay members and non-biologists, so responses on application forms, for both licenced and non-licenced animal research, should be aimed at the layperson.