Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

Literature Searching for Animal Testing Alternatives

The 3 R's

The 3 R's were first set forth in Russell and Burch's 1959 article, "The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques" and have become the guiding principles for the ethical treatment of animals in research. 

  1. Replacement: methods which avoid or replace the use of animals in research
  2. Reduction: use of methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.
  3. Refinement: use of methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and enhance animal welfare for the animals used.

“the humanest possible treatment of experimental animals, far from being an obstacle, is actually a prerequisite for a successful animal experiment.”

A Guide to Literature Searching

Many articles, books, and other guidelines have been published to help researchers find ways to reduce, refine, or replace animal subjects in research. This guide is designed to introduce you to the multi-step process necessary to conduct effective alternatives searches. If you have questions or would like to meet with a librarian to discuss your search, you can set up a research consultation at any point in the process. The Medical Sciences Library provides support to researchers at Texas A&M University by conducting AUP searches. To request AUP search assistance email AskMSL and include the search information as outlined in the AWIC Worksheet and your timeline. Someone will contact you within 2 business days.

Why Do a Literature Search?

Save Time, Money, & Effort

By examining the literature, you may discover that other laboratories have already worked on certain parts of your research project, making running a duplicate experiment unnecessary. You may also discover alternative methods of animal care, animal treatment, or experimental design that require fewer or less expensive specimens. In short, conducting an extensive review of the literature can save you time and money while helping to improve your research results.


It's the Law!

The Animal Welfare Act requires the principal investigator to examine alternatives to potentially painful procedures. The USDA's Animal Care Policy Manual (maintained by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) provides more in depth guidance as to how best to meet this requirement. Policy 12 in this guide specifically outlines the requirements for conducting and reporting the results of a comprehensive literature search. When documenting the literature search, researchers should include (at minimum) the names of databases searched, the dates when the search was performed, the time span of literature included in the search, and the specific search strategies used.


AUPs at Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University is committed to maintaining high standards for the care and use of animals in its research, testing, and teaching programs. Texas A&M has adopted the “U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training,” and complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws which impact the care and use of animals. Texas A&M investigators, teachers, staff, and students accept responsibility for determining that research, testing, and teaching involving the use of animals fulfill these principles, policies, and regulations. Texas A&M University's Division of Research, through the Office of Research Compliance and the Office of Biosafety, is responsible for providing training and support to faculty, students, and staff in regulatory requirements for research.