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IACUC Literature Searches: Search question & keywords

General Advise

For any research needing a literature review, we recommend this three step process to identify search terms.

  1. In a sentence or two, articulate your central topic
  2. Take your sentences and break them down into broad concepts
  3. For each concept or topic, identify synonyms or related terms

Brainstorming Protocol Specific Keywords

To be through, it's important to have and include synonyms for your keywords in your searches. Be sure to consider the suggestions below that may be relevant to your protocol.

  • Scientific and common names for
    • species
    • diseases
    • conditions
    • tissues, systems or cells
  • Generic and trade names for
    • drugs
    • chemicals
  • Treatments being used

Suggested Keywords for Alternative Searching

Unless you are submitting a breeding protocol, you'll need to do a search looking for alternatives to your research procedures that involve reduction, refinement and replacement.

There are suggested keywords to use in your search, that you should combine with specific methods, species, treatments or drugs used in your protocol.

This list is replicated from the guide from The University of Denver Libraries.

Reduction and Refinement

  • Adverse
  • Analgesic, hypnotic, sedative, tranquilizer
  • Anesthesia, anesthesia, anaesthesia
  • Anxiolytic
  • Assay, technique, method, procedure
  • Enrichment (behavioral, behavioural, environmental)
  • Euthanasia
  • Experimental design
  • Handling, housing, husbandry, caging
  • Invasive, non-invasive
  • Monitoring device
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Postoperative, postsurgery
  • Reduction, refinement
  • Restraint, restrict, immobilize
  • Train, educate, teach, instruct
  • Welfare, pain, stress, distress


  • Algae, fungus, hydra, plant
  • Anesthesia, anesthesia, anaesthesia
  • Animal testing alternatives, alternative
  • Anxiolytic
  • Artificial intelligence system, AI
  • Assay, technique, method, procedure
  • Autopsy, biopsy
  • Bacteria, microorganism, protozoan, single-celled organism, yeast
  • Cadaver
  • Cell, cell line, cellular
  • Computer aided instruction, computer assisted instruction, CAI
  • Culture (cell, tissue, organ)
  • Digital imaging
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Euthanasia
  • Fish, cephalopod
  • Insect, invertebrate
  • Isolated (cell, tissue, organ)
  • Mannequin, manikin, manikin
  • Membrane, organ, organelle, slice, tissue, tissue equivalent
  • Model (animal, cadaveric, interactive, mathematical, statistical, theoretical), modelling, modeling
  • Pain, distress
  • Physicochemical systems
  • Plastination
  • Prediction
  • Replacement, surrogate
  • Simulation (computer)
  • Software
  • Structure - activity relationship
  • System
  • Train, educate, teach, instruct
  • Video
  • Virtual (surgery, reality)
  • Vitro (AND method, model, technique)