Literature Searches for Animal Testing Alternatives

For help completing IACUC protocol applications.


Source: WikimediaCommonsA vast amount of published information exists for researchers looking for ways to reduce, refine, or replace their use of animal subjects in research. This information may be found in a number of databases and online web directories. It includes articles, books, and tools for animal and computer models, guidelines for and research into animal husbandry (including caging, handling, and blood sampling), and alternate approaches to commonly-studied diseases.

How do I do a literature search?

Searching for articles and other published literature on a topic is a multi-step process. This learning module is designed to help you perform your own searches for research alternatives.

If you would like to meet with a librarian to discuss your search, we are more than happy to help you. Please refer to the Consultations page for more information. We will make every effort to reply to your request within 24 hours.

Why do a literature search?

There are several good reasons for searching for animal testing alternatives to your experimental procedure. You may discover that certain parts of your research have already been completed by other laboratories, making running a duplicate experiment unnecessary. You may find alternative methods of animal care and treatment that ensure purer results on experiments, require fewer specimens or less expensive ones, and take less time to complete. In other words, a literature search can unearth experimental protocols that save time and money while perfecting research results.

Another strong reason for performing a literature search is that it is the law. Under Section 2143 of the Animal Welfare Act, the principal investigator on a research project must ensure that alternatives to painful procedures have been examined. Policy 12 of the Animal Care Resource Guide (maintained by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture and revised in March of 2011) clarifies the AWA provisions by outlining the requirements of literature search results, including the presence of a written narrative containing, at a minimum, the names of databases searched, the dates on which searches were performed, the timespan covered by the search, and the keywords and/or search strategies used.