Searching the Literature for Animal Testing Alternatives : a Tutorial

Tutorial for researching alternatives to animal research

Step 2: Select Databases

After constructing a good search question, the next most important step in literature searches is selecting the most appropriate databases. 

When searching for animal research alternatives, it is very important to look in more than one database. The USDA's Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) identifies choosing just one database as a RED FLAG that may result in your problems with your search.

 


The following types of databases are commonly useful for animal alternatives literature searching, though there are many more available through the UNC Libraries:

  • Recommended Research Databases - These research databases have been recommended by OLAW, AALECi, or similar organizations as being suitable for animal alternatives literature searching. Most are listed on UNC's IACUC form as suggested options.

  • Specialized Alternatives Databases - Databases that contain materials specifically relevant to the reduction, refinement, and replacement of animals in laboratory research and teaching can be of particular utility to your literature search. These databases often include a broader range of useful resources than other databases, including videotapes and software packages in addition to peer-reviewed articles.

It is highly recommended by the Library that you choose both PubMed/MEDLINE or whichever other database is most relevant to your area of study or practice and at least one other resource in order to find a complete picture of possible alternatives. 

Databases with Description

Animal Alternatives Search Database Selection Guide

The UNC IACUC will require you to search at least two databases. This guide can help you select the most useful for your specific protocol.


Database Selection Tips

Most researchers choose to start with PubMed or another broadly inclusive biomedical research database.

Your additional databases can be a second biomedical research database, or focus on :

If there is a specific database relevant to the protocol topic or model, you should include it in your search.  


Red Flag for Reviewers

Google Scholar IS NOT A RESEARCH DATABASE.

  • Use it to find useful news, contacts or articles, and to further search for similar funded research projects, but do not rely on it for any kind of thorough research
  • Its coverage is incomplete and includes many low-quality and predatory sources
  • It is not acceptable as a research or alternatives database for the IACUC

Further Help

You are welcome to contact a science or health sciences librarian for assistance in selecting the most useful database for your protocol.


 

Databases with Descriptions

All databases can be accessed via the Libraries. http://guides.lib.unc.edu/iacucdatabases

Broad Biomedical and Biological Science Databases

Choose a database that includes a very wide range of biomedical, biological and other disciplines: 

Broad Biomedical and Biological Science

  • BIOSIS Citation Index
    • Index of journals, reports, reviews and meetings; covers life sciences and biomedical research, including methods, instrumentation and animal studies.
  • Embase
    • International biomedical database with in-depth indexing of conference proceedings and thousands of peer-reviewed journals.
  • Global Health
    • International public health database from CABI containing abstracted and full-text information from journals, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, patents, and theses from more than 150 countries.
  • PubMed
    • Covers journal articles about medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and public health from 1946 to the present.
  • Scopus
    • Multi-disciplinary index of peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, with links to full-text where available through the library. Tracks how often articles have been cited and provides tools to analyze cited references.
  • Web of Science (ISI)
    • Multidisciplinary index of thousands of high-impact journals in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. Records # of times articles are cited. Includes access to other databases such as BIOSIS, Data Citation Index, Journal Citation Reports and more.

 

Databases by Protocol or Method Type

Education or Training Protocol

Is your protocol focused on classroom education or student training?

Education

 

 

Behavioral/Neuropsychological Protocol

Is your protocol focused on behavioral or neuropsychological research?

Neuro

  • PsycInfo
    • American Psychological Association's database of abstracts from psychology and related disciplines. Indexes journals, dissertations, book chapters, books, technical reports, and other documents from 1887 to the present. Links to full-text for many.

Toxicological or Pharmaceutical Protocol

Is your protocol focused on toxicological or pharmaceutical research?

Toxicological or Pharmaceutical

  • ALT-BIB: Bibliography on Alternatives to the Use of Live Vertebrates in Biomedical Research and Testing
    • Bibliography created to assist in identifying methods and procedures helpful in supporting the development, testing, application, and validation of alternatives to the use of vertebrates in biomedical research and toxicology testing; produced from MEDLINE database searches, performed and analyzed by subject experts from the Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program of the Specialized Information Services Division of the National Library of Medicine.
  • ECOTOX: Ecotoxicology Database
    • Database of single chemical toxicity data for aquatic life, terrestrial plants and wildlife ; created and is maintained by the U.S.EPA, Office of Research and Development (ORD), and the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory's (NHEERL's) Mid-Continent Ecology Division (MED).
  • Embase
    • International biomedical database with in-depth indexing of conference proceedings and thousands of peer-reviewed journals.
  • International Pharmaceutical Abstracts
    • Abstracts cover the spectrum of drug therapy and pharmaceutical information. A unique feature for clinical studies is the inclusion of the study design, number of patients, dosage, dosage forms, and dosage schedule.
  • RTECS : Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances
    • Toxicological information for more than 160,000 chemical substances, sourced from international journals, textbooks, technical reports, conference proceedings, compendia, etc.
  • TOXNET
    • A cluster of open NIH databases covering toxicology, hazardous chemicals, animal alternatives testing, environmental health, toxic releases and related areas; includes HSDB, TOXLINE, ChemIDplus, LactMed, DART, TOXMAP, TRI, CTD, Household Products Database, Haz-Map, IRIS, ITER, ALTBIB, CCRIS, CPDB, and GENE-TOX. Mobile apps available for some components.

 

Databases by Animal Model

Rodents & Other Small Mammals

Is your animal model a rodent or other animal commonly used in laboratory research?

Rodents & Small Mammals

  • ALT-BIB: Bibliography on Alternatives to the Use of Live Vertebrates in Biomedical Research and Testing
    • Bibliography created to assist in identifying methods and procedures helpful in supporting the development, testing, application, and validation of alternatives to the use of vertebrates in biomedical research and toxicology testing; produced from MEDLINE database searches, performed and analyzed by subject experts from the Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program of the Specialized Information Services Division of the National Library of Medicine.
  • BIOSIS Citation Index
    • Index of journals, reports, reviews and meetings; covers life sciences and biomedical research, including methods, instrumentation and animal studies.
  • ECOTOX: Ecotoxicology Database
    • This is a source for locating single chemical toxicity data for aquatic life, terrestrial plants and wildlife ; created and is maintained by the U.S.EPA, Office of Research and Development (ORD), and the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory's (NHEERL's) Mid-Continent Ecology Division (MED).
  • Global Health
    • International public health database from CABI containing abstracted and full-text information from journals, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, patents, and theses from more than 150 countries.
  • PubMed
    • Covers journal articles about medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and public health from 1946 to the present.

 

Primates

Is your animal model a non-human primate?

Primates

  • BIOSIS Citation Index
    • Index of journals, reports, reviews and meetings; covers life sciences and biomedical research, including methods, instrumentation and animal studies.

 

Fish, Amphibians & Reptiles

Is your animal model aquatic, a reptile, or an amphibian?

Fish, Amphib., Reptiles

  • ECOTOX: Ecotoxicology Database
    • "The ECOTOXicology database (ECOTOX) is a source for locating single chemical toxicity data for aquatic life, terrestrial plants and wildlife. ECOTOX was created and is maintained by the U.S.EPA, Office of Research and Development (ORD) , and the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory's (NHEERL's) Mid-Continent Ecology Division (MED)."
  • Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management
    • Abstracts from thousands of sources including scientific journals, conference proceedings, reports, monographs, books and government publications; subjects covered include biotechnology, water resources, water pollution, bacteriology, toxicology, population, microbiology, ecology, risk assessment, health and safety science, and natural resources.

 

Agricultural Animals & Fowl

Is your animal model an agricultural animal or fowl?

Agricultural Animals & Fowl

  • AGRICOLA
    • Abstracts of publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines, ranging from the 16th century to the present.
  • BIOSIS Citation Index
    • Index of journals, reports, reviews and meetings; covers life sciences and biomedical research, including methods, instrumentation and animal studies.
  • CRIS: Current Research Information Service
    • "CRIS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) documentation and reporting system for ongoing and recently completed research projects in agriculture, food and nutrition, and forestry. Projects are conducted or sponsored by USDA research agencies, state agricultural experiment stations, the state land-grant university system, other cooperating state institutions, and participants in a number of USDA-administered grant programs."
  • Global Health
    • International public health database from CABI containing abstracted and full-text information from journals, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, patents, and theses from more than 150 countries.

 

Wildlife

Is your animal model considered wildlife?

Wildlife

  • Zoological Record
    • Indexes 6,000 journals, books, meeting proceedings, and reports in all major areas of zoology.
  • Global Health
    • International public health database from CABI containing abstracted and full-text information from journals, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, patents, and theses from more than 150 countries.

 

Databases based on the Alternatives and 3Rs Focused Resources

 Find discussion and research about alternatives and the 3Rs:

Alternatives and 3Rs Focused Resources

 

Funded Research Project Databases

 Find existing funded research projects :

Funded Research Project

  • Current Research Information System (CRIS)
    • This database provides documentation and reporting for ongoing agricultural, food science, human nutrition, and forestry research, education and extension activities for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); with a focus on the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant programs.
  • Federal RePORTER
    • Combine search of federally funded research projects at the NIH, USDA, EPA, OSTP, and, soon, all federal agencies
  • NIH RePORTER
    • Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) is NIH's awards made tool, including award data from NIH, SAMHSA, HRSA, FDA, CDC, AHRQ and VA. Use NIH reporter to see who was funded for past grants and the details of ongoing research. You can read the abstracts of the funded project and the full FOA.
  • NSF Awards Search
    • Search a database of official National Science Foundation awards past and present for information about research projects and outcomes.

Database Searching Tutorials Sources

There are many tutorials available to aid in searching specific databases. The following are only some of those that may be found; there are often more available through the database home help screens.

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