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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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New Sources for Alternative Methods on the Internet: The Objectives of Databases and Web Sites

Barbara Grune, Antje Dörendahl, Dorothea Köhler-Hahn, Céline Feuerstein, Rainer Box, Heinz Wohlgemuth and Horst Spielmann

One of the main requirements of the current animal welfare legislation in Europe is to prove the necessity of performing a given experiment with animals. Thus, a study using animals should not proceed, if another scientifically reliable method is available to obtain the desired results that either avoids animal experiments altogether, minimises pain and suffering of animals or reduces the number of animals needed. Scientists are legally required to search the literature and other relevant sources for alternatives prior to any experimental study with animals. Access to information has become much easier since the introduction of the Internet as a standard tool. Today, a variety of online sources is available, e.g. webbased bibliographic databases and specialised web sites providing details about alternatives to animal studies. However, scientists still need to determine the most appropriate searching strategies, depending on the objectives of the relevant web sites and their own line of research. A critical discussion of this issue takes into account the objectives of both the information providers and the information retrieval systems.