If you have submitted your own manuscript or have been involved as a co-author, you are probably very aware that the Journal of Swine Health and Production (JSHAP) has many different policies and procedures. These policies, such as the requirement for a conflict-of-interest statement,1 are in place to help maintain the rigour of the scientific peer-review process and uphold the ethical policies of the journal. Another important Journal of Swine Health and Production requirement, which is outlined in the author guidelines, is that authors must provide a statement regarding any animal use that is in a presented manuscript. Specifically, this statement is to be placed at the beginning of the “materials and methods” section of the manuscript. So what is an animal-use statement exactly? Simply, it is a statement made by the authors that any animal use that occurred in the research conducted was done in a humane, necessary, and responsible manner and that the procedures used were approved by a third party or organization with authority and (or) knowledge in the species used for research purposes, ie, pigs.
Here at the University of Guelph, where I conduct the majority of my research, all animals used for research (or teaching) purposes are overseen by the university’s Animal Care Committee (ACC). The ACC is made up of a variety of individuals and includes members of the public, faculty who use animals in research, faculty who do not use animals in research, veterinarians, and graduate students, to name a few. This committee reviews all applications from researchers who wish to use animals in research and ensures that a research project has undergone a scientific merit review. The University of Guelph’s animal-use program follows and abides by guidelines set by the Canadian Council of Animal Care in science (CCAC) for using animals in research.2 The CCAC provides nationally and internationally recognized standards for the use of animals in research.2 Additionally, the CCAC oversees all animal use and animal-use programs in Canadian institutions. Researchers at universities across North America are quite used to these types of committees and animal-use policies, including the requirement to have all animal use reviewed and approved by their institution’s animal care and use department or committee. So most manuscripts submitted to JSHAP that originate from an academic institution have an appropriate animal-use protocol in place and an appropriate animal-use statement provided.
It can, however, be challenging to obtain an appropriate animal-use statement with case reports and clinical trials that are conducted by individuals outside the academic environment. This is because there occasionally may be lack of a peer review or third-party review of the study protocol prior to any animal use. This step is important, as it equates to a peer review of a scientific manuscript. However, a case report isn’t meant to be an original research project, so obviously no pre-review would have been conducted. It is extremely important to me that the journal receive case reports and original research manuscripts related to research projects that are conducted on farms by individuals outside academic institutions, ie, practicing veterinarians. For case reports, a statement that the farm from which the case report originated follows an appropriate animal-care program and that the case was overseen by a properly trained individual, such as the herd veterinarian, is considered appropriate. In Canada, for example, the Animal Care Assessment (ACA) program is utilized and often cited. For other research projects conducted it is important as a researcher to obtain a review of any animal use, ideally by a third party. It is important to note that animal-use regulations do vary slightly by region, ie, North America versus Europe, and so there is variability in the wording of these statements. However, JSHAP requires an animal-use statement for all manuscripts that have used animals.
If you need help with your animal-use statement, please do not hesitate to contact the journal office.
1. O’Sullivan T. Conflict of interest [editorial]. J Swine Health Prod. 2013;21:7.
2. Canadian Council on Animal Care in Science. Available at http://www.ccac.ca/en_/. Accessed 1 July 2016.
Terri O’Sullivan, DVM, PhD