Searching the Literature for Animal Testing Alternatives : a Tutorial

Tutorial for researching alternatives to animal research

Select Databases - Quiz!

Now that Dr. X has picked out some good keywords and constructed a search question, he needs to choose some appropriate databases. Remember, he is studying the effect of caloric intake on the growth of brain tumors in mice. Dr. X knows that he should search more than one database, and that certain databases may be more useful to his protocol than others. What databases are most relevant for different aspects of this search?

Select the most correct option by clicking the radio button beside it. Each time you answer a question you will get immediate feedback.

Your answers will not be recorded or used by anyone else, so don't worry about making a mistake. Take the quiz as many times as you like.


Dr. X is very comfortable with searching PubMed MEDLINE. Why should he use other databases as well?

That's what the law says he has to do.

Try Again! The actual text of the law states that researchers must provide a written narrative of their research into alternatives to animal testing methods, but does not specify a number of databases. Policy 12 of the USDA suggests that, at a minimum, researchers should search more than one database.


MEDLINE only has human medicine in it, not animal studies.

Try Again! PubMed MEDLINE contains articles showing the results of both human AND animal studies. If you are interested in limiting your results to one or the other, select the appropriate item on the "LIMITS" screen of PubMed MEDLINE.


Other databases may have information on subjects like animal nutrition and husbandry that may not be as prevalent in MEDLINE.

Correct! MEDLINE is a very large database, but it only covers a relatively narrow field of study applicable to animal research. In addition, you will not find certain published formats in MEDLINE. These formats include research proposals and reports, conference papers, books/monographs, and audiovisual publications.


Since MEDLINE is free, he should try something more scholarly to confirm his results.

 

Try Again! The fact that a database is free says very little about its relevance to a search or its scholarly value. Many of the databases that are best suited to searches for animal testing alternatives are "free" because they are supported by governmental or academic institutions such as the National Institutions of Health.

 

Which of the following databases would be appropriate for Dr. X's search?

Refinement and Enrichment for All Animals Database

Almost! The Refinement and Enrichment for All Animals Database has a wealth of information on laboratory methods for animal husbandry, handling, and euthanasia. However, might some of the other options also be good options for Dr. X's research?


RePORTER

Almost! CRISP: Computer Retrieval of Information on Research Projects is an excellent source for current and proposed research projects that are funded in whole or in part by the National Institutes of Health. However, might some of the other options also be good options for Dr. X's research?


BIOSIS Previews

Almost! CANCERLIT combines cancer research resources from MEDLINE with data from SEER: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results. This makes it a good supplement to searches on cancer research in MEDLINE. However, might some of the other options also be good options for Dr. X's research?


All of the above

 

Correct! All three of these databases are very different from one another, which means that Dr. X will find information from a broad range of subjects and formats. Remember, it is not necessarily useful to search four databases if all of them are very similar!

 

Dr. X's first searches will focus on whether he is duplicating work that has already been done or is process. Where should he look to find this out?

PubMed MEDLINE

Almost! Both PubMed MEDLINE and CANCERLIT contain citations to articles that have already been published in the journal literature. They do not, in general, have information about research that is proposed or in process. What about CRISP?


RePORTER

Almost! CRISP: Computer Retrieval of Information on Research Projects contains proposals and research updates for federally funded projects at US universities and research centers. This database is supported primarily by the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

However, Dr. X. also needs research that has been completed and published in scholarly articles. Where else should he look?


BIOSIS Previews

Almost! Both PubMed MEDLINE and CANCERLIT contain citations to articles that have already been published in the journal literature. They do not, in general, have information about research that is proposed or in process. What about CRISP?


All of the Above

 

Correct! Both PubMed MEDLINE and CANCERLIT contain citations to articles that have already been published in the journal literature. CRISP: Computer Retrieval of Information on Research Projects contains proposals and research updates for federally funded projects at US universities and research centers. By searching all three of these databases, Dr. X will find completed, in process, and proposed research related to his.

 

Another important aspect of his research for Dr. X to explore is the refinement of his handling, husbandry, and euthanasia methods with the mice. What databases should he search for information on this facet?

AltWeb Pain Management Database & Refinement and Enrichment for All Laboratory Animals Database

Correct! These two databases are specifically designed to help researchers locate alternative methods for the treatment of laboratory animals, including mice. They are the best place to go to find refinement and enrichment alternatives in research that involves animal testing.


AGRICOLA & Zoological Record

Try Again! While AGRICOLA and Zoological Record may have information about the biology and husbandry of animals, this information is generally limited to animals in their natural habitat or those which are being raised as livestock. Laboratory animal husbandry is not covered as completely in these databases as in others.

What other databases might be more applicable to this facet of Dr. X's literature search?

PsycInfo & Sociological Abstracts

Try Again! PsycInfo and Sociological Abstracts would be very useful if Dr. X was studying primates or humans, but mice are not a popular subject in these databases. In general, these two are helpful for studies that involve research into cognitive function or inter- and intra-species behaviors.

What other databases might be more applicable to this facet of Dr. X's literature search?

All of the above

 

Try Again! While all six of these databases might be useful at some point in Dr. X's literature search, they are not all applicable to this particular facet. Take another look at the options - are some of them more applicable to laboratory animal husbandry than others?

 

The third facet of an animal testing alternatives literature search is to determine whether "lower" species or non-animal models can be used as replacments in the proposed research. Where might Dr. X find information about possible replacements for mice in studying brain tumors and diet?

ALTBIB: Bibliography on Alternatives to the Use of Live Vertebrates in Biomedical Research and Testing

Almost! You could probably tell from the title alone that ALTBIB: Bibliography on Alternatives to the Use of Live Vertebrates in Biomedical Research and Testing is a good place to look for replacement alternatives. However, this database is not as large or as comprehensive as some of the other databases available to Dr. X.

What other databases might also be applicable to this facet of Dr. X's literature search?

INSPEC

Almost! It may surprise you that INSPEC, the physical and computer sciences database, is a good place to find replacement alternatives for animal research. In fact, a number of computer models exist in cancer research, and one of these may be applicable to Dr. X's project. INSPEC is not the only database that Dr. X will want to search, though.

What other databases might be applicable to this facet of Dr. X's literature search?

PubMed MEDLINE

Almost! By this point in his research, Dr. X has probably tried several different searches in PubMed MEDLINE. A search for replacement alternatives is a good one, but this is not the only place he could look for good options.

What other databases might be applicable to this facet of Dr. X's literature search?

All of the above

Correct! By looking for replacement alternatives in a variety of databases, including one representing standard health research, one representing the alternatives community, and one representing computer simulations and models, Dr. X will maximize his chances of finding good candidates for his research other than mice.

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