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3Rs Searching: Databases

Links to searching advice and resources

Databases Accessible through Penn

Searches should include at least two databases and the same topic searches should be run in each database.  The following include bibliographic databases that index the literature and specialty databases that contain more unique content on 3R topics.  The following information is drawn from the EURL ECVMA Search Guide.  See additional suggested search terms.

See also the AWIC Guide to Databases by Subject.


Name of database

Relevant content coverage

3Rs features and search terms

MEDLINE, National Library of Medicine.  Forms most of PubMed.  Incorporate in  EMBASE and Scopus.  Also searchable through Ovid and Web of Science interfaces.   

Primary biomedical database essential for 3Rs search.  Biomedicine, psychology, environmental and public health, molecular biology, bioethics, pharmacology, veterinary medicine Journal articles 

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®).  Terms “animal use alternatives”  ”animal welfare”. Covers 3R relevant journals

EMBASE, Excerpta Medica Database, Elsevier

Biomedicine, drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, pharmacy, toxicology, medicine, basic biological research, health policy and management, occupational and environmental health, biomedical engineering and instrumentation. Journal articles 

Broad range of biomedical information with a strong coverage of drug and pharmaceutical research. Covers 3Rs relevant journals. EMTREE Thesaurus. Terms: animal testing alternatives, animal testing reduction, animal testing refinement, and animal testing replacement&.

CAB Abstracts, CAB Abstracts

Agriculture, veterinary medicine, environmental sciences, medicine, microbiology parasitology, biotechnology.  Journal articles, serials, books, books chapters, conference proceedings and papers, dissertations, reports, patents, expert descriptions    

Thorough coverage of veterinary medicine including animal welfare and laboratory animal science.  CAB Thesaurus.  Terms:  animal testing alternatives,  category “LL040 Laboratory Animal Science” includes alternatives to the use of animals in  experimentation. Covers 3Rs relevant journals. 

Scopus, Elsevier

Life sciences, biomedicine, physical sciences,social sciences.  Journal articles, conference proceedings, book series, patents,


Broadest coverage of the biomedical and related literature.  Mostly textword searching. Some non hierarchical subject headings from MeSH, EMTREE, etc.  Covers 3R related journals.

Web of Science, Clarivate

Life sciences, biomedicine, physical sciences, social sciences. Articles and conference proceedings from high-impact journals

Covers 3R related journals.

Text word searching

Agricola, National Agriculural Library US

Agriculture, microbiology, biotechnology, veterinary medicine, environmental sciences.  Journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book chapters, monographs, theses, patents, computer files, maps, audiovisual materials, technical reports

CAB Thesaurus augmented by NALT Terms: animal welfare, animal use alternatives, animal use reduction, animal use refinement, animal use replacement. Covers 3R related journals.

BIOSIS Previews® , Clarivate


Biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, environmental sciences, zoology, agriculture, veterinary science.  Journal articles, serials, proceedings of meetings, conferences, symposia; reports, books, book chapters, U.S. patents, reviews 

Comprehensive access to literature in pre-clinical and experimental research, methods, and animal studies.  Indexes several 3R relevant journals. Text word searching.



ALTBIB, Bibliography on Alternatives to the Use of Live Vertebrates in Biomedical Research and Testing, National Library of Medicine

Alternatives to animal testing in biomedical research and toxicology testing.  Journal articles, books, book chapters, technical reports

the “ALTBIB Search Strategy Filter” searches PubMed. With search filters retrieve results that are assigned to the MeSH term “animal use alternatives” Older (up to 2000) materials can be searched on 15 pre-selected 3R topics.

AGRIS, International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology,

United Nations, FAO



Agriculture, veterinary medicine, animal welfare, fisheries, environment.

Journal articles, books, book chapters, reports, conference proceedings, academic papers 

Indexes “grey literature” from national, international and intergovernmental centers.  AGROVOC thesaurus terms: animal testing alternatives, animal welfare, laboratory experimentation, laboratory animals, experimentation

DB-ALM, Service on ALternative Methods to animal experimentation, EURAL ECVAM, European Commission

Alternative methods to animal experiments with focus on in vitro techniques for toxicology assessments. Journal articles, individual contacts with scientists using the methods, congress proceedings, internet sites of International organisations, ECVAM study contracts, ECVAM workshop and task force reports.

Information on alternative methods presented as expert written data-sheets. Method-summaries thoroughly describe alternative and advanced mainly in vitro test methods of chemical compounds including information on their status of development, validation and/or regulatory acceptance based on extensive literature reviews. 

DB-ALM protocols provide detailed instructions on how to perform the method in the laboratory. Summary-records of evaluation and formal validation studies on alternative methods are also provided, with study performance according to internationally recognised principles indicated.

ZEBET Alternatives to Animal Experiments, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment,  Germany 

Alternatives to animal testing in biomedicine and related fields. Journal articles, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, directions, theses, guidelines, laws, pharmacopoea, regulations, recommendations, reports, standards 

reports on suitable alternative methods.  Each document is indexed using the MeSH terms: animal welfare,  animal experiments, animal testing alternative, replacement, reduction, refinement


NORINA, Norwegian Inventory of Alternatives, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science

Alternatives or supplements to the use of animals in teaching and training in biomedicine . Video, computer and , simulations, books, 3-D models, charts, diagrams, web pages, slides

information on products that may be used as alternatives or supplements to the use of animals in teaching and training, including dissection alternatives, at all levels.  Text word searching.

Humane Education in Veterinary Medicine

Alternatives to the harming or killing of animals for educational reasons.  Film, projection slides, audio cassettes, DVD, cadaver, CD-ROM, computer programs,  models

information on alternatives to animal use for many levels of education. The search options allow to search for an alternative by species, medium, discipline, educational level or any combination of these categories.

Refinement and Enrichment for All Animals kept in Laboratories,  Animal Welfare Institute, Laboratory animal science, animal welfare  Journal articles, abstracts, book chapters, books Information on environmental enrichment and refinement of housing and handling condition of rodents, rabbits, cats, dogs, ferrets, farm animals, horses, birds, fishes, amphibians and reptiles. LAD records are grouped with the help of a specific keyword index for the topic of refinement of animal experiments, e.g. ethical issues, cage size, or aggression reduction. Most records are evaluated by scientists to guarantee relevance to the topic. 
NIH RePORTER Database of research funded by NIH For the thorough researcher who wants to know what research is in the works before publications have been produced in order to avoid duplication.


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