The first stage in planning research which may involve the use of animals or animal tissue is to search the literature for possible non-animal alternatives, or ways in which to refine and reduce the use of animals in experiments for which there currently are no alternatives.
This is a legal requirement in many countries, including Norway. The EU Directive 2010/63 states clearly that the final goal is 'full replacement of procedures on live animals for scientific and educational purposes as soon as it is scientifically possible to do so' (recital 10).
A thorough literature search will help to:
- identify possible non-animal alternatives to all or part of the proposed study
- prevent unnecessary repetition of animal studies
- identify efforts to reduce animal numbers
- identify refinements to procedures in the planned study
- Form a clear hypothesis, with primary and secondary outcomes
- Consider the use of systematic reviews
- Decide upon databases and information specialists to be consulted, and construct search terms
- Assess the relevance of the species to be used, its biology and suitability to answer the experimental questions with the least suffering, and its welfare needs
- Assess the reproducibility and translatability of the project
There are many other guidelines for planning parts of animal experiments, and for reporting studies. We recommend use of Norecopa's search engine in addition to the resources mentioned under the 15 topics of the PREPARE guidelines. The search engine returns the results of a search on all the pages on this site, including entries in the Refinement Wiki.
- A 6 Step Checklist for Responsible Research gives a useful summary of the overarching principles to be applied when conducting any type of biomedical research (produced by Responsible Research in Practice).
- A worksheet for a literature search for alternatives (USDA/ARS/NAL/AWIC)
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