AGRICOLA Thesaurus for Animal Use Alternatives

View an alphabetical listing of all the terms and their relationships to other terms.

Search the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus (NALT)
The NALT provides detailed coverage of all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines including animal science)


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is charged with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. The 1985 amendment to the Act (Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act) call for the Secretary of Agriculture to establish an information service at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) (7 USC 2142, Sec. 13, Subsection e). This service, the Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC), was established to provide information on animal care personnel training and improved methods of experimentation that reduce, refine, or replace animal use in research, education, and testing. The regulations of the Act (9 CFR 2.31(d)) require the principal investigator of animal research projects to consider Aalternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals@ and Aprovide a written narrative description of the methods and sources, e.g., the Animal Welfare Information Center, used to determine that alternatives were not available.@

In its Animal Care Policy Manual (APHIS 1997, Policy #12), USDA APHIS/Animal Care, the regulating agency, defines the written narrative as including, Athe databases searched or other sources consulted, the date of the search and the years covered by the search, and the key words and /or search strategy used by the Principal Investigator....Reduction, replacement, and refinement (the three R=s) must be addressed, not just animal replacement.@

The NAL indexers, acquisitions staff, and staff members of the AWIC help meet this Federal mandate by collecting and indexing alternatives literature in the NAL database AGRICOLA. This database indexes peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, books, audiovisuals, and all AWIC-produced publications that address the broad spectrum of research relating to the 3 Rs and other areas of animal welfare such as care of companion, zoo, and farm animals.

To facilitate patron access and improve the specificity of indexing for alternatives information in AGRICOLA, NAL has enhanced its controlled vocabulary by incorporating alternatives terminology.

Status of the Thesaurus

Alternatives terminology was selected from a variety of sources (e.g., research protocols, journal articles, book indexes, and bibliographies. A list of over 200 terms were reviewed, organized into related groupings, and then categorized in hierarchies to form a microthesaurus. These terms are a subset of terms pulled from the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus (NALT). They are provided to you in the alphebetical format to assist in choosing appropriate terminology when searching for alternatives.

We realize that the listing is incomplete and we would like your help in refining and expanding the list. We welcome comments on the terminology, structure, possible usefulness, and any suggested additions.

Send comments or suggestions to AWIC, tel: (301) 504-6212,


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March 2, 2006
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