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Literature Search for Alternatives to Animal Use & Painful/Stressful Procedures

The 3 Rs of the alternatives to animal use proposed by Russell and Burch in 1959 are (1) Reduction: minimize the number of animals used; (2) Refinement: use techniques and procedures that reduce pain and distress; and (3) Replacement: substitute animal models with non-animal techniques or lower organisms.

Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (9CFR, Part 2, Sec.2.31 (d) states "...the IACUC shall determine that... (ii) The principal investigator has considered alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals, and has provided a written narrative description of the methods and sources, e.g. the Animal Welfare Information Center, used to determine that alternatives were not available...."

Policy Procedure

The Saginaw Valley State University IACUC requires that Principal Investigators (PIs) who plan to use laboratory animals conduct a literature search for alternatives to animal use and alternatives to painful or stressful procedures as part of the Animal Use Protocol. These alternatives should be addressed within the AUP.

  • Search a minimum of 2 databases (e.g. Pub Med, MedLine, Cinahl, PsychInfo, WorldCat). Databases may be accessed through the SVSU Library. The Animal Welfare Information Center can be accessed at
  • Document the databases used, dates covered in the search and date of search and document the keywords used for the search.
  • Write a brief summary of the search results. If alternatives to the use of animals are found, but not used, you must scientifically justify not using the alternative methods. If no alternatives to the use of animals are found, a statement to this effect should be included.
  • Keep a record of your search results for your own files.

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