Literature Searching and Databases

Sketch of man at computer

"APHIS continues to recommend a database search as the most effective and efficient method for demonstrating compliance with the requirement to consider alternatives to painful/distressful procedures." (USDA, APHIS, Animal Care Policy #12)


Why Conduct Literature Searches for Alternatives?

USDA. NAL. Animal Welfare Information Center.

Article reviews the legislation, rationale, and benefits of the alternatives literature search.


USDA. NAL. Animal Welfare Information Center.

Databases containing information on biomedical research, biological science, animal science, veterinary medicine, fish and wildlife research, toxicology and specialized alternative (3R) methods.

Sample Literature Searches for Alternatives

USDA. NAL. Animal Welfare Information Center.

The search strategies below are provided as examples of how to structure a search. They are examples only and should not be interpreted as all inclusive, exact or the only way to retrieve information on the subject.

Also remember that the search methodology will also depend on the search engine used.

Please review the literature search instructions (PDF | 103KB) for more information on database selection, terminology, etc.

There are many ways to document literature searches for alternatives. For one suggestion, see the Alternatives Search Summary Example.

The EURL ECVAM search guide -- Good search practice on animal alternatives: re-edition (2013)

EURL ECVAM (European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing)

Developed to inform and support untrained database users to find high quality information on relevant alternative strategies and methods to animal experiments in an easy yet systematic way.

Searching for 3Rs Information - Published Literature Sources (PDF | 285KB)

Information Managers in the Pharmaceutical Industry.

A 2002 document with information on core 3Rs journals, database details, a list of useful keywords, and an example of a search strategy.

Guide to Searching for Alternatives to the Use of Laboratory Animals

Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments.

A FRAME guide to literature searching, including terms, strategies, and links to useful information on the internet.

Search for Alternatives: A Step-by-Step Approach to an Alternatives Search


Developed by the Altweb Project Team, this website provides information on databases, policies and regulations, and sample searches.

Three Rs Search Guide

Canadian Council on Animal Care.

Provides detailed instructions on how to conduct a 3Rs information search, including questions to assess if your 3Rs search is complete.