Report and recommendations of the workshop "Retrieval approaches for information on alternative methods to animal experiments"

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Barbara Grune
Michael Fallon
Carol Howard
Vera Hudson
Jodie A. Kulpa-Eddy
Jean Larson
Sue Leary
Annett Roi
Jan van der Valk
Mary Wood
Antje Dörendahl
Dorothea Köhler-Hahn
Rainer Box
Horst Spielmann


In the member states of the EU and in the USA, scientists are obliged by animal welfare legislation not to conduct an animal experiment if another scientifically satisfactory method is reasonably and practicably available. To meet the regulatory obligation to use alternatives to animal experiments, scientists should consult literature and other relevant sources on alternatives prior to any experimental study on laboratory animals. It is the responsibility of the individual scientist to select the most appropriate database to obtain information on alternatives, which have been defined as methods that refine, reduce or replace animal experiments (the 3 Rs concept of Russell and Burch (1959)).
Specialised information services provide support to scientists searching for publications on alternative methods. On occasion of a workshop in Berlin in November 2003, representatives of animal welfare information centres discussed currently available information sources on alternative methods, index terms for alternative methods, and search strategies based on index terms for alternative methods. ZEBET presented an investigation on the current status of indexing systems on alternative methods in established literature databases. The project analysed how the results of a search for publications on alternatives was influenced by the indexing procedure. The results of the study were exemplified by a typical search result. The results of the study indicated that the current indexing systems do not provide the required information, since not all of the relevant information is indexed under "alternative methods". The workshop participants developed recommendations for ad hoc working groups and research projects, e.g. development of suitable search strategies on alternative methods for scientists.

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Grune, B., Fallon, M., Howard, C., Hudson, V., Kulpa-Eddy, J. A., Larson, J., Leary, S., Roi, A., van der Valk, J., Wood, M., Dörendahl, A., Köhler-Hahn, D., Box, R. and Spielmann, H. (2004) “Report and recommendations of the workshop "Retrieval approaches for information on alternative methods to animal experiments"”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 21(3), pp. 115-127. Available at: (Accessed: 24January2021).

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