Darwin Frequently Asked Questions and Troubleshooting Tips

What is Darwin?  Darwin is the Web based software replacing the paper based Animal Use Protocol submission and directly link with animal facilities. The program’s ten sites were launched from October 2011 to May 2012.

What is the difference between Darwin and eSirius?  eSirius is the name of the software program developed by NTM specifically for animal care management. The Web based software was customized to our animal care program and re-named Darwin as an easy-to-remember name and to link to its URL (https://darwin.research.mcgill.ca) and support system darwin [at] mcgill.ca (Darwin).

I cannot login to Darwin  Ensure that you are entering your McGill short username. It has the first letter of your first name and a maximum of 5 letters of your last name, sometimes followed by a number. John Smith could be jsmith6 for example. It must be a McGill issued ID. If you are faculty, an employee or a student, this has already been issued. If you do not have a McGill ID, please request one from Darwin’s Web form, an on-line form. Note that the McGill password is what goes into Darwin, not the 6 digit Minerva PIN. If you have forgotten the password, contact McGill's itsupport [at] mcgill.ca (ICS) to have it reset. 

Which internet browser is the best for using Darwin? Users so far, have found Google Chrome to be well suited for Darwin's functionality. It has a built-in spell checker which does not need to be turned on or installed. Most useful is the capacity of grabbing the right lower corner of a text field and stretching it out to a much bigger window. Mozilla Firefox is also very good. It can be viewed by Internet Explorer but if there is no spell checker, please install one and turn it on.

Are there manuals on how to use the different modules of the software? Yes and they can be found on this Web page.

How can I have more detailed information about amendments? Please visit this Web page.

How do lists work in Darwin? For protocol behaviour such as list of species, strains, drugs, hazards, location etc, see Web page.

How do I get an Animal Certificate for Health Canada, funding agency, thesis submission or anyone who asks me for one? Animal Certificates are created for every year that a protocol is active. As part of the final approval process, one is created and attached to the Title section of the protocol. See this Web page for details.

What does “Alert” mean?  The software lists the items requiring attention or that are pending at the top of the home menu choices. Every item has a link that will launch the screen pertaining to the protocol, amendment or animal order in question. For some functions, the software will generate automatic emails to your institutional email.

I cannot see any “Alerts”  If you know that you should be seeing alerts but see none, perhaps you are in the wrong role or site. If you have more than one role (PI, Vet, Committee Member…) and/or belong to more than one site (FACC), you need to switch from one to the other by using the left hand menu options on the home page. Also notice that the software segregates new protocol from Annual Review (short renewal), full 3rd year renewal (full renewal), amendments, unfinished (not yet submitted) protocols and amendments and animal orders.

I cannot see my currently approved protocols.  The home page only lists protocols which are unfinished, pending review, in need of renewal or being amended. Once approved, the Alert dissapears and the approved protocol is found using the “Protocol Search” option in the bottom of the homepage.

How can I amend my protocol?  Very different from the old system where an amendment was a document submitted, reviewed and approved as a separate entity, the act of amending a protocol is actually choosing protocols sections and modifying them. IMPORTANT: you are revising the total number of animals, not just entering the number of additional ones. For example, if you had 100 mice originally approved and need 20 more, the new number in the protocol section you are revising should read 120 now. The old text is presented to you as a reference. Once approved, the protocol is revised. There is no separate amendment to attach to the protocol.

How can I verify the status of my protocol?  If it is pending, the protocol will be in the Alert section of the home page. The workflow will show from whom to who is has gone. From “FACC” to “Reviewer(s)” means that the FACC Administrator has submitted it to the Committee Members for review. If the "To" field shows “PI”, it means that it is awaiting action from you. Clicking the protocol number will bring you to the protocol with recommendations from the committee. If the protocol is not showing in the Alerts section, using “Protocol Search”, find the protocol and information about its status and expiration date will be shown.  

Where can I find training material to help me understand how to use Darwin?  Videos and manuals can be found on the Darwin software course section.

The protocol disappeared from my “Alerts”, where did it go?  Once a protocol is approved, it is removed from the Alert sections. You may find it by using the “Protocol Search” option in the home menu.

Can a Principal Investigator/Instructor delegate the completion of a protocol to someone in his research/teaching group?  Yes, when adding people to a protocol, the PI is asked if the person can be a “Requestor”. This means that this person would be allowed to complete a protocol and amendments. When this person approved, it goes to the PI who needs to review it before submitting to the FACC. A requestor (delegate) cannot directly submit to the FACC.

Do I need to get signatures? To sign myself?  No handwritten signatures are needed. The McGill credentials (ID and password) required when accessing the software and submitting protocols and amendments, represent an electronic signature.

How do I go back to a previous section of the protocol? Please do not use the browser's back button. You need to use the hyperlinked section titles in the Table of Content on the left side but be aware that jumping from section to section with the Table of Content menu does not save the data you entered in the page you are leaving. Safer to use the Save and Continue buttons.

I don’t always see the same choices on the home menu, why is that?  If you hold different roles, only choices allowed under one role is offered to you on the list of options. In the PI role, protocols can be created and submitted, animal orders placed and amendments can be made to a protocol. In the Committee Member (IMBR) role, viewing protocols and amendments is possible.

I just did something but the workflow didn’t change.  On the home page, next to the date on right side top banner under the Darwin logo, the word “Refresh” can be clicked to have the page re-loaded. Recent changes will then appear.

Why is it so slow to call up a protocol/amendment?  There is a delay when waiting for a protocol or amendment to display. This is because the software is building an html Web page for viewing purposes. Depending on your connection and the size of the protocol, this can take from 20 seconds to 2 minutes. The 3G upgrade scheduled for the end of 2014 will greatly accelerate this step. 

What is a Register?  The Register is where you find the raw animal numbers. Click the Home menu option “View Protocol Species Usage Register”, use the filters to find and choose the protocol you want and the register will appear. It will show the Status, approval date, expiration date, species, category of invasiveness, number of animals authorized, amended, ordered…

Why is the software insisting that information is missing for the PI (or requestor) in the Personnel section?  There is one field which is required but is not automatically filled by data from the main database and it’s the classification. This is where the person is said to be a “Principal Investigator”, “Graduate Student”, “Technician”, etc… Choose the applicable label for the person by clicking his/her name to access the form and choose from the drop down list.

Why can I not change my password using Darwin?  The password is linked to the McGill Active Directory credentials (McGill short username and 8 digit password used for McGill emails). You need to go to Minerva and change your password there.  

How do I print a protocol/amendment?  Since the software is accessed via your internet browser, printing is done by using the options your browser offers. Users usually print to "Adobe pdf" or "HTML Web page only" to obtain a copy of the protocol.

How do I fix my printer problems: If your department or office has a Service Level Agreement with ICS, you should contact them. If this is related to a cage card printer, you must contact the vendor.

When adding a procedure to the protocol in an amendment, why can't I see it in the Activities list of the Personnel section? Only approved procedures can be found in the Personnel section. In the 3G upgrade to come in 2014, this will change and we will be able to select procedures added bia amendment. 

Why can't I type numbers into the form, only text? You need to ensure that the key "Num Lock" on your computer keyboard is set to 'on'. If it is off, the numbers on your numerical keypad will not function in anything, not just Darwin. 



IACUC = US synonym for FACC (Facility Animal Care Committee). In some instances, it was not possible to replace this word with “FACC” (Facility Animal Care Committee)

Stipulation = recommendations or questions

w/o stipulation = without stipulation;  w stipulation =  with stipulation 

Requester = the person the PI delegated to complete the protocol/amendment

Role =  PI or Committee member or FACC Coordinator or Vet…  The choices and Alerts visible on the screen depend on the role you are currently in. If you have only one role, there are no Roles choices presented to you. If you have more than one role (such as PI and Committee Member), login in puts you in one of the two roles so please remember to use the left hand menu to switch to the other role (otherwise, you will not see what is waiting for you).

Site = Facility Animal Care Committee (FACC) such as the Downtown Campus B FACC, MGH FACC, etc…)

Darwin = eSirius but customized to the institution.

Alert = Note to the user that something either requires attention or is pending.

Register = Section of the software where animal numbers are shown (# approved, # by amendment, #ordered, # received).