Searching the Literature for Animal Testing Alternatives : a Tutorial

Tutorial for researching alternatives to animal research

Steps in the Research Process

As a laboratory researcher, you are fully aware that all research follows definable steps from beginning to end. Literature research is also based on the "scientific method":

Throughout the process, you must manage your search process and its results.

1) Manage Your Results

  • Record your search process
  • Organize and store your resulting literature citations
    • Suggested methods : Citation manager (RefWorks, Endnote, Zotero), Excel, etc 

2) Choose Keywords to Form the Search Question

  • Write list of all Category D or E procedures/situations in your protocol
  • Develop lists of keywords based upon your protocol and the 3 R's

3) Select & Search a Database

  • Select your most appropriate databases
  • You will need to search more than one database

4) Construct & Run the Search Query

  • Organize your keywords into a search query or statement
    • These may need to be adjusted for specific databases with different requirements; each variation should be recorded
  • Record this strategy - it is required for your application

5) Evaluate Your Search 

  • Review and evaluate your search results - did you find an adequate search result?
  • If you did not, try again with different words or in a different database

6) Report Your Results

  • Provide a written narrative of your results appropriate to your protocol and sources
  • Describe each search performed

For a very general overview of the literature search process, please check out our online learning module, Finding Health Information.

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