Before a research program can begin, the scientist must write a detailed outline of the proposed research. This document, referred to as a research proposal, explains the specific aims and expected results of the research and describes what methods will be used to accomplish these aims. If the scientist plans to use animals as part of the research, he or she must explain in a separate written document why animals are needed to accomplish the aims, what procedures will be performed on the animals, and how the animals will be housed and cared for throughout the project. This document, called an animal use protocol, is reviewed by a committee, the IACUC, at the university or private company where the scientist works to determine if the use of animals is appropriate. If the IACUC approves the use of animals, the proposal is sent to the funding agency for review. The funding organization reviews the proposal to determine whether the proposed research is important and likely to produce significant results.
Competition for money is strong, and only a small percentage of applications are funded. Approved funding, also called a grant, provides money to purchase the equipment and labor necessary to carry out the study. A portion of this money covers the costs of animal care at a laboratory animal facility. Granting agencies, institutions and scientists have a vested interest in making sure that the services and animal care provided by the laboratory animal facility and its staff are appropriate and cost-effective.