1-Literature searches

Literature searches 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

General principles
For fish researchers

One of the first stages 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).

The results of literature searches should include the following information: 

  1. The databases and other sources used, and dates of access. If possible, use databases which generate unique URLs (web addresses) every time a search is performed, such as here on the Norecopa website. This facilitates repetition, documentation and evaluation of the search.
  2. The keywords and search components used.
  3. The information centres consulted.

The Norecopa website contains links to over 70 databases.

The training module EU52 "Searching for (existing) non-animal alternatives", and its instruction guide with links, available for free on the ETPLAS website, are highly recommended.

Many more links to specific guidance on literature searching, databases and systematic reviews are available in a separate section of this website.

More resources

This page was updated on 26 September 2023

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