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Animal Alternatives: Literature Searching for Animal Research: A Guide

Search strategies and advice for IACUC Literature Search

Step 1: Define the Question

Formulating the Question

Think of your research question in four parts.

   1.) Intervention/Exposure

   2.) Disease of interest/health problem

   3.) Animal/animal species/population

   4.) Outcome measures

Brainstorming Keywords

   Tips for Research-Specific Keywords

  • Scientific and common names of any species being studied
  • Scientific and common names of any diseases or conditions being studied
  • Generic name, trade names, and CAS RN of drugs and/or chemicals being used
  • Treatments or procedures being used + related terms
  • Scientific and common terms for tissues, systems, or cell lines being studied

   Tips for "Three R's" Keywords

There are many options for keywords in the "3R's". The Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has compiled a list of suggested keywords that is replicated in this guide. In addition, you may wish to use the sample MeSH keywords and searches when constructing a PubMed MEDLINE search or consult the National Agricultural Library's Thesaurus for Animal Use Alternatives when searching AGRICOLA or for ideas for keywords to use in other databases.

Leenaars, M., Hooijmans, C., van Veggel, N., ter Riet, G., Leeflang, M., Hooft, L., van der Wilt, G.J., Tillema, A., and Ritskes-Hoitinga, M. (2012). A step-by-step guide to systematically identify all relevant animal studies. Laboratory Animals, 46(1), 24-31. doi:10.1258/la.2011.011087