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Animal Alternatives: Home

Resources for animal alternatives searching

Core Databases

Note: PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE search essentially the same records. Searching PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE would count as *one* source, not two.

Additional Resources

Overview of Animal Alternatives Searching

For ACUC protocols: Any procedure that may potentially cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress requires a literature search for animal alternatives.

The 3 R’s: “Alternatives or alternative methods are generally regarded as those that incorporate some aspect of replacement, reduction, or refinement of animal use in pursuit of the minimization of animal pain and distress consistent with the goals of the research.

These include methods that use non-animal systems or less sentient animal species to partially or fully replace animals (for example, the use of an in vitro or insect model to replace a mammalian model), methods that reduce the number of animals to the minimum required to obtain scientifically valid data, and methods that refine animal use by lessening or eliminating pain or distress and, thereby, enhancing animal well-being.” (from APHIS Animal Care Resource Guide, Policy 12)

Questions about animal alternatives searching for your protocol?
Contact Kate Anderson.

Search Terms to Consider

Terms will vary among databases and will depend upon your protocol. Because constructing one search strategy to cover all 3R’s can be unwieldy, it’s best to perform different searches.

Note: () = truncation: e.g., reduc() retrieves reduce, reduces, reduction, etc. Different databases use different symbols.

Replacement: Substitute animal with other or non-animal model. Note: in the replacement search, terms for the species listed in the protocol aren’t used.

  • Animal use alternatives, alternative() Note: using only the term "alternative" in the search is insufficient. Use in conjunction with other replacement terms.
  • In vitro, cell culture, culture techniques
  • Computer simulation
  • Model() (e.g., biological; statistical)
  • Mannekin(), cadaver
  • Transgenic plant()
  • Animals NOT mammals, laboratory animals
  • Replace()

Reduction: Minimize the number of animals used without losing statistical power

  • Reduc() [near terms like animal, number, research]
  • Power analysis

Refinement: Techniques to lessen pain and distress

  • Animal Welfare
  • Pain, stress, distress
  • Anesthe(), analges()
  • Adverse effects, poisoning, toxicity, complications
  • Positive reinforcement, enrich(), refine()
  • Social housing

Also see this excellent guide to Literature Searching from University of Denver:

Yale's Cushing Library has some nice examples as well.

Need Help?

If you're in the School of Medicine, please contact Rachel Alexander, HSL Research Support Librarian.

Others can contact Rae Thudium, Head, Zalk Veterinary Medical Library.

The Guide