Databases & Guidelines
- 3R Guide: a global overview of databases, information centres, journals, email lists, regulations and policies which may be of use when planning experiments which might include animals.
- NORINA: a global overview of audiovisual aids and other items which may be used as alternatives or supplements to animals in education and training at all levels from junior school to University.
- TextBase: a global overview of textbooks and other literature within laboratory animal science and related topics.
- Classic AVs: a subset of NORINA covering audiovisual aids using older technology.
Norecopa has continued the work of the Laboratory Animal Unit at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science of systematically collecting information on alternatives, databases and guidelines for animal experiments since the early 1990s. The 3R Guide database is an expanded and updated electronic version of a comprehensive review published in 2005 in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture's Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC):
The use of databases, information centres and guidelines when planning research that may involve animals. Smith AJ & Allen T (2005), Animal Welfare, 14, 347-359. (available here with permission from UFAW)
The paper included a comprehensive list of guidelines, databases, information centres, journals, email lists, regulations and policies which may be of use when planning experiments which might include animals.
History of the development of alternatives databases
Although the 3R concept was launched in the 1950s, at least 20 years passed before a concerted effort was made to advance the concept and disseminate information about alternatives. This was partly due to a lack of faith in the existing technology to replace animal experiments. There were few global sources of information on 3R resources until the development of the internet.
The first European initiative to collect and disseminate information on databases was the ECVAM workshop in Neubiberg outside Munich, in September 1996, hosted by the Akademie für Tierschutz, which is a part of of the Deutscher Tierschutzbund (German Animal Welfare Federation). Information experts from Europe and the USA, constructed an overview of the approximately 20 databases in existence at that time and categorised them according to their scientific field:
Janusch A, van der Kamp M, Bottrill K, Grune B, Anderson DC, Ekwall B, Howald M, Kolar R, Kuiper HJD, Larson J, Loprieno G, Sauer UG, Smith AJ & van der Valk JBF (1997): Current status and future developments of databases on alternative methods. The Report and Recommendations of ECVAM Workshop 25. ATLA 25 (4): 411-422.
An overview of the participants with their affiliations at that time is available here.
The advantage of this type of cooperation is obvious within the field of education. Many of the earliest animal alternatives were very simple, qualitative simulations of complex biological processes, and some of these gave the impression that 'alternatives' were too simple to be of use in higher education. Nowadays, many alternatives are extremely complex and are based on results from real studies in animals. However, many companies still cover a very small segment of the market and produce few alternatives. Without some form of database, teachers and students seeking alternatives will have great problems in finding adequate information. One of the problems faced when searching for information on the Internet, is that much of the material is not accessed by standard search engines. This hidden section of the Internet, also called The Deep Web, includes documents where the text is concealed within a format not accessible to the search engines, such as information on company intranets, and text inside password-protected documents or databases. The Deep Web is many thousand times larger than the Internet that is accessed by standard search engines and is growing exponentially. It is therefore vital that the field of laboratory animal science has access to global databases whose contents are quality-assured by experts in the field.
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