The alternatives search -- Replace, Refine, Reduce

This guide, created by Cornell Library in support of the Cornell IACUC, walks you through conducting an alternatives search for IACUC protocols.  Follow the steps on the left for guidance.  

If your IACUC protocol is classified as pain category D and/or E, you'll need to include an alternatives search, which involves:

  1. Searching for information on your proposed IACUC protocol.  The Cornell IACUC requires that you search at least two databases.  
  2. Using the results to inform a brief narrative (250 words or less) in your protocol on:
    • Replace - replacement of animal experiments with alternatives
    • Refine - reduction of pain and suffering in animal experiments
    • Reduce - reduction of the number of animals used in experiments

Does your protocol include more than one animal species in pain categories D or E?  If so, you need to conduct an alternatives search for each species and procedure in your protocol.  

More information in the Alternatives Search requirements can be found on Cornell's IACUC website.  

Why search for alternatives?

The Animal Welfare Act requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.  

Researchers submitting an IACUC protocol that is classified at pain category D or E are required to do an alternatives search.  This is one part of the IACUC protocol that ensures that pain and distress in animal research subjects are minimized.