Information retrieval on alternative methods to animal experiments - one of the factors that affect implementation of the Three Rs in research and testing
High-quality research and the protection of animals used for scientific purposes both demand the application of best tools to ensure that the 3Rs are appropriately considered and realized. It is essential that each animal experiment is carefully evaluate dregarding its indispensability. The decision of whether or not an animal experiment is indispensable is to be based on the state of the scientific art and a scientific examination whether the pursued purpose cannot be achieved by alternative methods. In this context searching high-value information on alternatives to animal testing is discussed as one of the key elements to prove the indispensability of animal experiments. Indispensability searches are composed of several steps which are based on each other. They should start by defining the scientific objectives of research projects, followed by choosing appropriate information resources, compiling relevant search terms, creating search queries and documenting the search process.To improve information dissemination on alternative methods at national level the National German Centre for the Documentation and Evaluation of Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) pursues a three-fold strategy. ZEBET's strategy consists of (1) capture of and supply of information - via AnimAlt-ZEBET database, (2) education in systematic search procedures as part of courses accredited by the Federation of Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA), and (3) research in retrieval technology. ZEBET's strategy aims at supporting well-informed scientists and well-informed competent authorities responsible for proving the indispensability of animal experiments.