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Animal Research & Welfare


This Animal Research and Welfare guide was created to assist IU School of Medicine investigators with literature searches for IACUC protocols.

If you need assistance the contact information for Elaine Skopelja is located on the left side of the page.

IU School of Medicine IACUC Home

The 3Rs

REDUCTION: Minimize the number of animals used

REFINEMENT: Use techniques and procedures that minimize pain and distress

REPLACEMENT: Substitute animal models with non-animal techniques or animal alternatives

IUSM IACUC Literature Search Policy



There is no actual USDA requirement that two databases be used; however, best practices would indicate that the following procedures be utilized.

Using Only One Database

The preferred resource if using only one database is Medline (via either PubMed or Ovid). When performing searches to address the question of alternative animals, non-animal alternatives, refinement, and duplication, always include the:

·         Name of the database(s)

·         Date the search was performed

·         Time period covered by the search (e.g. 1946-present)

·         Search strategy (including scientifically relevant terminology)

·         Refinement searches must include names of the specific painful procedures used in the protocol

·         Alternative searches should include specific types of alternatives and not just the word “alternatives”

·         For additional documentation on searching see the Animal Care Resource Guide - Policy #12 Consideration of Alternatives to Painful/Distressful Procedures

 The search result does not need to be included on the application but should be the basis for addressing the remaining questions in the IACUC application. The USDA recently indicated that if a librarian is involved in performing or verifying searches, then two databases may not be needed.  Any IACUC member can ask for a librarian search if they feel they need assistance. If an investigator uses the same due diligence when searching and documenting their research, two databases may not need to be used.

 Using More than One Database

If a protocol involves specialized equipment (e.g. new electronic device) or some other unique characteristics OR if an initial search in Medline does not locate any relevant results, searching more than one database might be necessary. There are engineering, education, agricultural, and other scientific databases available as well as general resources like Google Scholar. See the IUSM Animal Research & Welfare Guide at: to locate additional databases and searching tips.

·         Separate search strategies should be documented for each database because the terminology may not necessarily be the same in each database.


The literature search should be documented so that IACUC members, inspectors, or others viewing the protocol can follow a printed search strategy, view the list of databases and keywords and verify that the investigator has made a good faith effort to demonstrate whether or not alternatives exist and/or whether or not there are less painful experimental methods available.

 Approved September 10, 2014 by the Indiana University School of Medicine IACUC Committee.

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