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3Rs Keyword*/Concepts Terminology

The selection of the appropriate keywords/concepts terminology can determine the final results of your search. 

  • Most of the terminology will come from the area of study and procedures proposed in the protocol. 
  • Conducting the search with study related terminology will retrieve information pertinent to the investigator's field of study.
  • Citations retrieved should provide information on current research, alert the investigator to whether or not they are performing duplicative studies, and possibly provide information to refine experimental techniques to minimize pain and dress, reduce animal numbers, and/or define humane endpoints.

Many people make the mistake of putting the term “alternatives” in the strategy and expect to find “all” possible alternatives. Because alternatives is a complex concept involving refinement, reduction and replacement, the use of  “alternatives” as a search term is best used only in those areas of study where larger amounts of research have been conducted on alternatives, such as in toxicology or education. In other areas of research the term “alternatives” often retrieves results not related to the 3Rs.

The terms as listed below are not comprehensive and should not all be included in a search for a given protocol. They are provided to spark ideas for potential refinement, reduction and replacement keywords and concepts that can be used to conduct literature searches for research and alternatives.

For more information on terminology go to the Animal Use Alternatives Thesaurus (PDF | 297 KB). 

Terminology for Refinement and Reduction Alternatives

*Refinement alternatives are often found using terms relevant to the area of study.

  • analgesic or analgesia or pain reduction
  • anesthetic or anasthetic or anaesthetic
  • animal welfare or well-being
  • animal model
  • assay or technique or method or procedure
  • biomarker or biological marker
  • environmental enrichment
  • euthanasia
  • experimental or statistical design (pilot study, variation, sample size, etc.)
  • humane endpoint
  • humane handling or humane restraint or humane treatment
  • husbandry, or housing, or handling or caging
  • imaging
  • monitoring device or telemetry device
  • non-invasive
  • pain or stress or distress
  • positive reinforcement or animal training
  • reduce or reduction or refinement

Terminology for Replacement Alternatives

  • Animal testing alternative or animal use alternative or alternative (useful primarily in toxicology and education)
  • Cadaver or carcass
  • Cell culture, cell line
  • Computer aided instruction, computer assisted instruction
  • Computer (simulation or application)
  • Digital imaging
  • In silico
  • Interactive
  • Isolated (cell, tissue, organ)
  • Mannequin, manikin or model (non-animal)
  • Mathematical (biology or model or simulation)
  • Model (animal, cadaveric, interactive, mathematical, statistical, theoretical), modeling (US spelling or modelling (UK spelling)
  • Non-animal model
  • Organ-on-a-Chip
  • Plastinate or plastination
  • Replacement alternatives
  • Simulation or simulator or trainer
  • Software
  • Structure evaluated system
  • Tissue culture or organ culture
  • Tissue engineering
  • Video (disc, display)
  • Virtual (reality)
  • Vitro

*Note: This list of terms in not comprehensive.