...Information on Databases
... Sample searches
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Alternatives Searching  

A guide to support searching for alternatives in research and education
Last Updated: Jun 2, 2017 URL: http://ucdavis.v1.libguides.com/alternatives-searching Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Searching for Alternatives

Searching for alternatives means considering ways to reduce, refine, or replace whenever there is proposed animal use in research, teaching, or testing.

Many articles, books, and guidelines have been published to help researchers consider alternatives to potentially painful or stressful methods or procedures; related citations and guidelines may be found at the Resources and Tutorials tab.

While this guide will focus on the Animal Welfare Act and US regulatory compliance in research and education, it is an international concern; most countries have animal welfare laws and regulations that require a consideration of alternatives.  The related principals, guidelines, regulations and laws may be found at the Regulations tab.


Questions | Assistance
Adele Dobry, Librarian


How to search continued

Similar to the approach described in the EURL ECVAM Guide:

Define specific information need
Identify fundamental components of scientific approach
Choose appropriate information resources
Complile search terms
Search in 3Rs-specific context
Limit search results in broader biomedical databases
Broaden the search as necessary


 and as described by SYRCLE (Leenaars, Lab Anim, 2012):

Formulate research question
Identify appropriate databases and sources of studies
Transform research question into search strategy
Collect search results and remove duplicates
Identify potentially relevant papers


as well as Sargeant (Zoonoses and Public Health, 2014):


How to search for alternatives

  • Define the questions  |  Note all possible keywords and subject headings to include in your literature search,  those which are related to your research, as well as those related to the 3Rs.
  • Select appropriate databases  |  Selecting the appropriate databases is critical; you will need to search in more than one database and to tailor your keywords, subject headings, and search strategies to each specific database.
  • Construct the search strategies  |  After developing keyword lists, you will need to develop search strategies, including how to expand and/or narrow your searches.  Keep a record of databases and search strategies for protocol submission.
  • Evaluate search results  |  Review and evaluate your results as you go along in order to make modifications to your search strategies.
  • Manage and report search results  |  After conducting your searches, you will need a way to keep track of the information that you have located, document the process, and create a narrative concerning any refinements, reductions, or replacements identified.

Additional Alternatives Search Guides

Highly recommended guides:  

CCAC 3Rs Search Guide  |  EUR ECVAM Search Guide  |  UCCAA  AWIC  |


This guide based on work previously done by: 

UNC  |  University of Denver  |  University of Toledo  |



European Commission EURL ECVAM Search Guide
... a fundamental requirement, namely that, for legal, ethical and scientific reasons, any researcher planning to, or using, animals for experimental or other scientific purposes must be well-informed about the state of the art of the proposed field of investigation.  In particular, to satifsy the legal and ethical imperatives that animals shall only be used for research and testing if all possible alternatives are considered but found to be inadequate...


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