Skip to main content

IACUC: Searching for Alternatives to Painful Procedures Used on Research Animals: Alternatives searching home

This guides helps you search the literature for alternatives to painful and distressful procedures in animal research

When to do a search for alternatives

Yale's IACUC requires a database search when your protocol involves USDA-covered species at Pain Categories D and E. You must conduct a literature search in at least two databases to show:

  • the work does not unnecessarily duplicate previously published work
  • the work will obtain valid results while using the smallest possible number of the lowest order of animals
  • the researchers have sought alternatives to EACH potentially painful/distressful procedure proposed

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the library involved?
Librarians are experts in information retrieval, so we can help you find more relevant information, and less irrelevant information.

Is searching for alternatives a waste of time? 
Searching for alternatives is valuable. You'll familiarize yourself with the relevant literature, and you may discover better approaches.

What is a search for alternatives?
Russell and Birch write that alternatives or alternative methods "incorporate some aspect of replacement, reduction, or refinement of animal use in pursuit of the minimization of animal pain and distress consistent with the goals of the research.”

A database search effectively and efficiently demonstrates compliance with the requirement to consider alternatives to painful/distressful procedures.

Replacement: Can I replace the animals with non-animal models, in vitro methods, or a phylogenetically lower animal?

Reduction: Can I reduce the number of animals in my experiment?

Refinement: Can I refine my protocol by making procedures less painful, providing a humane endpoint, or making the lab less stressful?

Get help with your search for alternatives

Your department's librarian can help you plan a search for alternatives.

School of Medicine: find your departmental librarian here

School of Public Health: contact Kate Nyhan

GSAS Biology: contact Lori Bronars