If you need assistance conducting your searches, contact the librarian assigned to your IACUC.
In addition to providing evidence for a determination that a proposed protocol is novel and that the use of animals is justified, documentation of the alternatives search is often used by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) members to conduct their own research into the methods, outcomes, animal species, and procedures described within the protocol.
Because IACUC members may be non-scientists, or scientists whose expertise is outside of the proposed protocol, the alternatives search information which researchers provide becomes an important resource for helping the committee evaluate the protocol and the justification for animal use. Keeping in mind that the committee is evaluating the protocol and not the science; it is important to find a balance between too little and too much information.
The new TOPAZ form splits the alternatives search requirement into two components:
1. A search for unnecessary duplication
2. A search for alternatives to pain and distress (required only if your protocol has category D or E animals)
In the sections below, you will find information about constructing each of these searches.
PIs are required to search the literature to show that the proposed animal work does not unnecessarily duplicate existing knowledge. This search should be focused on your research topic and should not use alternatives keywords, such as 'alternative', 'animal model', 'computer', etc.
***Please copy and paste the exact search string you used (shown in green below) into the 'Key Words for Unnecessary Duplication Search' box in the TOPAZ form. This way, the IACUC members can accurately evaluate your searches.***
For this search, you are looking for alternatives to painful or distressful procedures. These alternatives include the 3Rs: Reduction (reducing animal numbers), Replacement (using a non-animal model or less sentient species), and Refinement (selecting less painful/distressful procedures).
***Please copy and paste the exact search string you used into the 'Key Words for Alternatives to Potentially Painful/Distressful Procedures' box in the TOPAZ form. This allows the IACUC members to accurately evaluate your searches.***
While many of the elements of the alternatives search narrative are accounted for in the TOPAZ form, for example the time period covered and the date on which the search was performed, some narrative assessment and evaluation of the search results is required. Relevant points and considerations to document include:
Remember that an approved protocol is a publicly discoverable document. By providing a thorough and well organized overview of the alternatives search process and a sufficient narrative to justify the use of animals for a proposed study, researchers both facilitate the activity of the IACUC while documenting ethical animal practices.