As described in the IACUC guideline on literature searching, principal investigators must demonstrate that they actively searched for alternatives to procedures that may cause animal pain or distress, prior to ACUP approval.
To answer Q. 12 of the ACUP form, include:
o Date of search
o Time period covered by search
o Database name(s)
o Search strategy used—at minimum, list key words and phrases used
o Briefly discuss each “R” separately. Address what alternatives are used, and if some are not used, why this is so.
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 speciments. 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 Resource Guide (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. The report a researcher writes to document the literature search should include (at minimum) the names of databases searched, the dates when the search was performed, the timespan of literature included in the search, and the specific search strategies used.