Good communications and engagement

Institutional committees need the support of senior management and staff in general, including scientists and others that are affected by the committee's work. Good communications, both to and from the committee, are essential if the committee is going to be rightfully recognised as an asset to the establishment.

People sitting down taking notes

The committee must be clear about its aims, objectives and the expected outcomes from all of its tasks. It needs to explain who is involved and publicise its work throughout the establishment, seeking feedback on all its activities. It should think carefully about its processes and try to ensure that these take account of the needs and sensibilities of committee 'users' so that discussions are conducive to improving welfare, science and staff relations. 

Researchers especially need clear guidance on what is expected of them when preparing their projects for review, for example what papers will be required, timelines for submissions, whether a presentation is needed and if so how long and in what detail, who will they be presenting to, and whether there will be discussion while they are present.

Communications within the establishment can include newsletters, the intranet, posters and opening up committee meetings (or some agenda items) and other initiatives, such as workshops, to any interested members of staff.

Links with other committees outside the institution are also important.  For example, the UK Animals in Science Committee (ASC) has set up a regional AWERB Hub network to act as a source of information and communication between AWERBs. Networks of Animal Welfare Bodies have also been established by countries including Denmark, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands. In the USA, the organisation Public Responsibility In Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) acts as an information source and runs annual meetings for Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs).

The UK AWERB has a further task of promoting the Culture of Care in the wider community. This can take the form of input into materials that the establishment produces for the public, for example relating to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. These should include information about the AWERB, and the committee can also ensure that the materials include the harms and limitations of research as well as the benefits, which is required by the Concordat.