The 3Rs Survey

NOTICE: The 3Rs survey is now closed. Thank you to those who have participated in this survey.

The Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (2013) requires the application of replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs) at all stages of the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. However, there is little documented evidence about the use of the 3Rs in Australia. Views and advice about current practices are therefore being sought from those directly involved, to gain an insight into how the 3Rs are currently understood, considered and implemented.

The survey is being conducted by ORIMA Research, an independent market and social research company, on behalf of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

More about the survey

  • What is the purpose of this survey?

Concerns are sometimes raised about the level of adherence and attention paid to the 3Rs in Australia.  However, there is limited documented evidence of the use the 3Rs in Australia. This survey will help to address this information gap. 

  • Who is ORIMA Research and why are they conducting the survey?

ORIMA Research is an independent market and social research company. ORIMA Research is conducting the survey on behalf of NHMRC to ensure independence of the survey process and the anonymity of participants. ORIMA Research will collect and analyse the responses, and report on the results to NHMRC. However, NHMRC will not have access to any information that will identify individual participants.

  • Do I have to take part in the survey?

No. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. If you do not wish to take part in this research project you are not obliged to do so. There are no consequences for those who choose not to participate.

  • Am I eligible to participate?

You are eligible to take part in this survey if you are:

- an investigator who has been involved with the use of animals for specific purposes sometime during the last three years

- a current member of an animal ethics committee 

- the senior person in an institution who is responsible for overall institutional governance with respect to the care of animals for scientific purposes. 

  • Does the survey apply only to the use of animals in NHMRC-funded research?

No. The survey is not restricted to health and medical research or NHMRC-funded research. The aim of the survey is to obtain information about the 3Rs and the use of animals for scientific purposes that are covered by the Code:

- The definition of scientific purposes includes teaching, field trials, environmental studies, research, diagnosis, product testing and the production of biological products.

- The definitions of animal is 'any live non-human vertebrate (that is, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, encompassing domestic animals, purpose-bred animals, livestock wildlife) and cephalopods'. 

  • How was the survey designed?

The survey design and content was developed in consultation with NHMRC’s Animal Welfare Committee. It is based on peer-reviewed literature and international surveys to enable benchmarking of key survey results with data obtained about other countries. It has also been piloted with representatives from each of the target groups to ensure the suitability of its design and content.

  • What if I am involved with the use of animals in teaching activities?

International surveys that will be used for benchmarking of the results from this survey have focussed on the use of animals in activities other than teaching. Many of the survey questions are therefore not suited for animal use in teaching activities, such as in primary and secondary schools and undergraduate teaching.

However, even if your use of animals is limited to teaching activities only, your views are still valuable. All you need to do is skip those questions that do not apply to your situation.

  • What if I am a post-graduate student involved in a research project?

Post-graduate students involved in a research project are considered to be investigators under the Code and are therefore eligible to take part in the survey.

  • How will I receive information that enables me to take part in the survey?

If you have been identified as a potential participant in the survey, you will receive an invitation via an email from NHMRC, your institution or the government department in your state/territory that is responsible for animal welfare. This email will contain all of the information you need, including how to access the survey.

  • Why have I received an invitation to participate via my institution or the state/territory government?

NHMRC has access to information about research that is funded by NHMRC and can contact some investigators and institutions directly. However, the use of animals for scientific purposes extends beyond health and medical research funded by NHMRC.

NHMRC is therefore asking other parties to distribute invitations to potential participants throughout Australia. This approach has been taken to ensure the best possible response rate so that results represent a true picture of the current situation about the use of the 3Rs in Australia. It may also mean that you receive an invitation to participate in the survey from more than one source.

NHMRC acknowledges and thanks the assistance provided for this survey by third parties, such as the state and territory government departments responsible for animal welfare.

  • What should I do if I haven’t received an invitation to participate?

Potential participants should receive an invitation email to take part in the survey. If you believe that you are eligible to take part in the survey, and have not received an invitation by mid-late March 2018, you should contact the relevant section of your institution or the relevant government department in your state/territory. 

  • Will NHMRC know I submitted a response?

No. Your responses to the survey are anonymous and will be seen only by ORIMA Research staff. ORIMA Research will conduct the analysis of the survey and will report on the survey results to NHMRC in a manner that will prevent identification of your responses.

  • How will my feedback be used?

The outcomes from the survey will be included in an Information Paper presenting evidence about the current situation in Australia regarding the 3Rs. The intent of the Information Paper is to promote informed discussion of any issues and guide recommendations for improvement if required. The Information Paper will be published on NHMRC’s website.

  • Can NHMRC or someone else use this information for compliance purposes?

No. This survey will not be used for compliance purposes and the survey questions are not designed to collect information of this type. As your responses are anonymous, and ORIMA Research will be providing NHMRC with non-identifiable information only, your responses cannot be used for this purpose.

  • Has ethics approval been obtained for the survey?

Yes. Approval has been obtained from the Commonwealth Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee (Project Number: 08-2017).

  • How do I find out more about the survey?

For further information, please contact ethics@nhmrc.gov.au.