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IACUC: Guide to Information Resources

Resources to support Comparative Medicine and meeting the information requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.


This guide is intended to assist IACUC members and researchers at Penn State Hershey in meeting the information requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. It also links to other resources at Penn State and Penn State Hershey that pertain to IACUC and Animal Research activities and needs, such as policies, guidelines, and web resources for laboratory procedural training. Suggestions from the IACUC and researchers for content in this guide are encouraged - see the profile link at the left to contact me.

This guide is divided into the following sections (use the tabs at the left to move from one section to another or select a link from the list below):

AWA Requirements

The primary contact that researchers have with the information requirements of the Animal Welfare Act is in the literature search for alternatives portion of a research protocol proposal. It is important to know that these requirements have recently changed:

APHIS Policy #12 (dated March 25, 2011) differs from  the previous policy (dated June 21, 2000

The new text is as follows:

  "When a database search is the primary means of meeting this requirement [consideration of alternatives or alternative methods], the narrative should include:

  • the name(s) of the databases searched (due to the variation in subject coverage and sources used, one database is seldom adequate)
  • the date the search was performed
  • the time period covered by the search
  • the search strategy (including scientifically relevant terminology) used."

The key is that 1) multiple databases are now recommended, and 2) the inclusion of the actual search strategy is also required as opposed to only the keywords. This change allows for better evaluation of the quality and comprehensiveness of the search performed, and also allows a reviewer to replicate the actual search that a researcher used to support their protocol.

Help with documenting your search strategies can be found on the "Databases" page.