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Animal Alternatives Searching

This guide was developed in partnership between the University Library and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to aid researchers performing literature searches for animal alternatives.

Alternatives searches are typically guided by "The 3Rs"*

Methods that replace animals in research with non-animal models or with a lower species


  • Reuse of data from previous experiments (literature searches, data sets, systematic reviews)
  • In vitro methods such as tissue engineering
  • Computer models or simulations
  • Replacing a species with one with lower neuro-physiological development (vertebrate to invertebrate)

Methods that allow researchers to minimize the number of animals used in research, while allowing results to remain statistically significant


  • Species and strain selection to find the best model for the scientific objective
  • Careful experimental design to limit variation and determine an appropriate sample size
  • Storing and sharing tissues and data

Methods that alleviate or reduce potential pain and distress or that contribute to animal welfare over the animal’s lifetime


  • Careful species and strain selection
  • Behavioral enrichment
  • Pain management
  • Humane endpoints

*Russell, W.M.S. and Burch, R.L., (1959). The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, Methuen, London. ISBN 0900767782