Literature Searches for Animal Testing Alternatives

For help completing IACUC protocol applications.

Advanced Search Strategies

  • Find and use synonyms, related terms, commonly used acronyms, different drug names (trade, brand and generic names)
  • Use symbols for:
    • Plural variation (e.g., stud* will find study, studying, or studies)
    • Truncation (e.g., comput* will find computers, computer, computed, computing, etc.)
    • Wildcard (e.g., leuk*mia will find leukemia or leukaemia)
  • Vary the spelling of words (e.g., tumor and tumour) and prefixes (e.g., prenatal, pre natal, pre-natal)
  • Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to link words together
Boolean Operator Purpose Effects Example
Find a connection between words
Narrows the search because the citation must contain both words cholera AND vaccine
OR Search for similar terms, such as synonyms, scientific vs. common species name, trade/brand name vs. generic name, etc. Broadens the search because the citations will contain at least one of the words avertin OR tribromoethanol
NOT Find one term but not the other Narrows the search by eliminating citations with the second word dimentia NOT alzheimer's
  • Quotations
    • Best if you are looking for a specific phrase or title
    • Example: “X is not Y”
  • Parentheses
    • Best if you are looking for different combinations of words and/or phrases
    • Can be used in conjunction with Boolean logical operators and quotations
    • Examples
      • (“X is not Y”) OR (“Y is not X”) will search for one of the two phrases word for word
      • (dermatoses NOT erythema) AND photochemotherapy will search for photochemotherapy and different dermatoses except erythema
      • (8-methoxypsoralen OR 8MOP OR xanthotoxin OR ammoidin) AND “Ammi majus” will find citations with the plant “Ammi majus” and one of the four terms that are synonymous with the drug, methoxsalen
  • Use appropriate search filters and limit options (e.g., an “advanced” search)
  • Use proximity operators (e.g., Nx or Wx) to find words that are in close proximity to each other
    • Near operators (“Nx”) find citations with the words that are “x” words apartregardless of the sequence
      • For example, “Nicotine n2 addictive” will result in citations that have the words “nicotine” and “addictive” up to 2 words apart.  Therefore, "nicotine is addictive" or "addictive drug nicotine," would appear, but "nicotine, similar to that of cocaine, is considered highly addictive" would not
    • Within operators (“Wx”) find citations with the words that are “x” words apart in the order searched
      • For example, “John w2 Booth” will result in citations that have the words “John” and “Booth” up to 2 words apart. However, "John Wilkes Booth" and “John Booth” would appear but not "Wilkes John"

* Not all strategies and operators are applicable for all databases and resources