alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals; and

  1. the written assurance that the activities do not unnecessarily duplicate previous experiments.

We believe that the performance of a database search remains the most effective and efficient method for demonstrating compliance with the requirement to consider alternatives to painful/distressful procedures. However, in some circumstances (as in highly specialized fields of study), conferences, colloquia, subject expert consultants, or other sources may provide relevant and up-to-date information regarding alternatives in lieu of, or in addition to, a database search. When other sources are the primary means of considering alternatives, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and the inspecting Veterinary Medical Officer should closely scrutinize the results. Sufficient documentation, such as the consultant's name and qualifications and the date and content of the consult, should be provided to the IACUC to demonstrate the expert's knowledge of the availability of alternatives in the specific field of study. For example, an immunologist cited as a subject expert may or may not possess expertise concerning alternatives to in vivo antibody production.

When a database search is the primary means of meeting this requirement, the narrative must, at a minimum, include:

  1. the names of the databases searched;

  2. the date the search was performed;

  3. the period covered by the search; and

  4. the key words and/or the search strategy used.

The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) is an information service of the National Agricultural Library specifically established to provide information about alternatives. AWIC offers expertise in formulation of the search strategy and selection of key words and databases, access to unique databases, on- and off-site training of institute personnel in conducting effective alternatives searches, and is able to perform no-cost or low-cost electronic database searches. AWIC can be contacted at (301) 504-6212, via E-mail at, or via its Web site at Other excellent resources for assistance with alternative searches are available and may be equally acceptable.

Regardless of the alternatives sources(s) used, the written narrative should include adequate information for the IACUC to assess that a reasonable and good faith effort was made to determine the availability of alternatives or alternative methods. If a database search or other source identifies a bona fide alternative

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement