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How Do I Perform Searches for My IACUC Protocol?

Collection Development and Digital Resource Management Librarian

Lori Snyder
Please contact me with any recommendations for this guide.

George T. Harrell Health Sciences Library
717-531-0003, x285323

Getting started

A good place to begin learning about a search for alternatives is the Literature Searching and Database page of the Animal Welfare Information Center.

You can also consult the Selected Databases page of this guide. Remember to use two different databases for your searches. You can use one resource that searches the MedLine database but your second resource must search a different body of information.

Requirements for the protocol

The narrative for protocol review should include the following:

  • the names of the databases searched (use at least two databases)
  • the date the search was performed
  • the time period covered by the search
  • the search strategy (including scientifically relevant terminology) - keep track of your search strings

Email with questions about capturing search strings.

Example of completed protocol form (alternatives section)
Potentially painful procedure: Jugular Catheter  
Name of databases searched: PubMed, ScienceDirect  
Date of Search: 3/1/2016  
Years covered by search: 1965-present  

Keywords or search strategies used:

(("jugular catheter") AND rats) AND in vitro - in PubMed

TITLE-ABSTR-KEY(jugular catheter) and TITLE-ABSTR-KEY(in vitro) and TITLE-ABSTR-KEY(rat*) - in ScienceDirect

16 results but no articles identified any acceptable alternatives

19 results but no articles identified any acceptable alternatives


Suggested search terms for when searching for alternatives

The term "alternatives" is not a catch-all as many subject specialties do not use the term, or use it in ways not relevant to searching for "alternatives" to painful/distressful procedures. Refer to the Altweb Resources Search Guide for more information: 

Here are some suggested terms to use when searching for alternatives:


• alternative • animal testing alternative • assay • distress • euthanasia • learn • learning • method • model • pain • replace • replacement • surrogate • system • teach • teaching • technique


• aided/assisted • artificial • cadaver • computers • image • imaging • instruction • interactive • mathematical model(ing) • model(ing) • prediction • simulation • software • teaching • theoretical model(ing) • virtual


• statistics • statistical analysis • experimental design • model • reduce • reduction


• distress • (non-)invasive • pain • postoperative • postsurgery • stress• anaesthesia • anesthesia • anesthetic • anaesthetic • analgesia • analgesic • anxiolytic • sedative• animal cage • animal caging • animal euthanasia • animal housing • animal husbandry • animal welfare

The USDA provides a worksheet of possible search terms.