Alternatives and Searching the Literature for Animal Research

by Megan Van Noord – November 22, 2021

Megan Van Noord

Researcher Services
Health Sciences Librarian


In this Guide:

Published by the National Agricultural Library, the Agricola database describes publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines
ASFA - Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts
Database on the biology, ecology, technology and management of marine, freshwater, and brackish water environments and organisms … 
BIOSIS Previews
Life sciences, biochemistry, biomedicine, biotechnology, ecology, environmental sciences, genetics, microbiology, veterinary medicine & pharmacology, and zoology  
CAB Abstracts

Citations and abstracts to the international agricultural literature, including veterinary medicine, human and animal nutrition 

CINAHL Complete

Nursing, biomedical, allied health and consumer health literature 


Biomedical and pharmacological database  derived from biomedical articles in peer reviewed journals 

ERIC - Educational Resources Information Center
ERIC databases indexes and abstracts education and education related journals, studies and reports, with links to full-text studies and reports 

A comprehensive index to the global journal and proceedings literature in physics, engineering, computing, and information technology 


Citations and abstracts for articles published in  journals in medicine, life sciences, health administration, veterinary medicine, nursing, molecular biology and genetics 


Citations to articles in professional journals, conference proceedings, books, reports, dissertations 


Information in all areas of toxicology, including chemicals and pharmaceuticals, pesticides, environmental pollutants, and mutagens and teratogens. TOXLINE is part of TOXNET  

Web of Science Core Collection

Broadly interdisciplinary, offers journal content across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences 

Zoological Record Plus

Database of animal biology, comprehensive coverage of zoology 

Alternatives Search Resources

The federal Animal Welfare Act requires that local institutional animal care and use committees (IACUCs) review certain local research protocols involving the use of animals. To assure a broad review, IACUCs include local members outside the animal care and research communities. As a result, IACUCs and research support staff become involved in the education of these members, their incorporation into committee problem solving, and in ethical decision making. This guide is intended to provide a brief list of resources on the functions and administration of institutional animal care and use committees, including these three areas. We invite your suggestions for additions and changes to this information guide.

UCDavis Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee


What animals want : expertise and advocacy in laboratory animal welfare policy
Carbone, Larry. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2004.
Carlson Health Sci Library W20.55 A5 C27 2004
The human use of animals : case studies in ethical choice
New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Carlson Health Sci Library W20.55 A5 H86 1998
Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research : Expectations of the major research council and charitable funding bodies
NC3Rs, BBSRC, MRC, NERC and Wellcome Trust.Sourcebook of models for biomedical research.  Totowa, N.J. : Humana Press, c2008.
Carlson Health Sci Library QY58 S724 2008
Laboratory animals in research and teaching : ethics, care, and methods
Washington, DC : American Psychological Association, c2005.
Carlson Health Sci Library QY50 L276 2005
The ethics of research involving animals
London : Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 2005.The design of animal experiments : reducing the use of animals in research through better experimental design.  London : Royal Society of Medicine, c2002.
Carlson Health Sci Library QY50 L22 no.14 2002
Animal training: a review and commentary on current practice
Proceedings of a symposium / organized by Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, held at the Peterhouse Theatre, University of Cambridge, 26th-27th September 1989.  Potters Bar, Herts, Eng. : Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, c1990.
Carlson Health Sci Library GV1829 A54 1990 Regular Loan
Education and training in the care and use of laboratory animals : A guide for developing institutional programs
Committee on Educational Programs in Laboratory Animal Science, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council. Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, 1991.
“FELASA recommendations on the education and training of persons working with laboratory animals: categories A and C; Reports of the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Association’s Working Group on Education accepted by the FELASA Board of Management.”
Laboratory Animals. 1995; 29:121-31 (FELASA Guidelines)
Guidelines on the handling and training of laboratory animals prepared by the Biological Council Animal Research and Welfare Panel. Potters Bar. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 1992.
Carlson Health Sci Library SF406 G4 1992 Regular Loan
The UFAW Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory Animals, 7th edition. Editor T B Poole.  Two volumes, Volume 1 Terrestial vertebrates, Volume 2 Amphibious and aquatic vertebrates and advanced invertebrates. Blackwell Science 1999.
Carlson Health Sci Library QY50 U5 1999 Regular Loan

Searching Resources

Free Public Databases from NLM and NAL

Educational Alternatives Databases

Alternatives Search Guidelines (Complying with USDA Policies 11 and 12)

Literature Search
A minimum of two database searches that reflects a serious effort to address the “3Rs” (refinement, replacement, reduction) is required by federal law. It is also important to show that the proposed use of animals is not unnecessarily duplicative of other studies previously performed.

The 3Rs are:

  • Refinement of technique to reduce or eliminate unnecessary pain and distress an animal may experience.
  • Reduction, which refers to an effort to reduce the number of animals used overall within the study.
  • Replacement refers to replacing animals with non-animal alternatives, non-mammalian or invertebrate species.  Alternatives could include in vitro methods that utilize organ, tissue and cell culture, computer simulation models, microorganisms, plants, or chemical techniques.
Result of Search for Alternatives
Indicate the results of this search for alternatives, and whether you were able to identify alternatives that are included in the studies proposed. If no alternatives have been found, and if no prior studies have been performed that indicate duplication, then state this within the framework of the objectives of the study. It is important to state the unique aspects of your study in relation to the published literature. Please also include any procedures you have performed that indicate your efforts to decrease the use of animals. This could include in vitro studies or those performed with invertebrate or non-mammalian species. This helps document your efforts toward employing the concepts of the 3Rs.