An animal study usually involves a relatively long period of planning, and (not least) a period after the study in which that part of the animal facility returns to normality. Both these periods involve time (i.e. labour costs) and expenses: for example, emptying and disinfection of contaminated rooms, and disposal of waste (which may have to be specially ordered, if it is hazardous). Scientists must be aware that their study and its effects do not end until all these processes have been attended to.
Coupled with this, is the need to ensure in a busy workday that all the parameters that may be important for data interpretation and manuscript submission are collected and recorded safely. Misunderstandings can easily lead to failure to collect data, which in the worst consequence can ruin an otherwise well-planned experiment, with wastage of animal lives, time and human resources.
Some form of written agreement between the facility and research team should therefore always be made. The agreement should clearly define the division of labour and costs between the various parties involved. Copies of the agreement should be kept by all parties concerned.
Here is an example of an agreement for the division of labour and responsibility between an animal facility and research group:
Download the agreement as a Word (.docx) file
Download the agreement as a pdf file
The role of the agreement is to help ensure that no items are forgotten. Not all items will be relevant, nor will they all be equally important in all studies. This will depend upon the research area, the species to be used and the location (e.g. laboratory or field experiments).
Note that in many cases it is equally important to record the degree, time and duration of the procedure (e.g. fasting), as its occurrence.
This very process of dividing labour and responsibilities will also help to identify any extra costs which the project may entail, and which have to be allocated to one or more of the parties.