Conducting the IACUC Application Literature Searches Updated 10/30/08, Kevin Messner ([email protected]) Purpose: Most IACUC applications require the investigator to conduct two types of literature searches: a search to show non-duplication of the proposed research (Part I.B. of the application), and a search for alternative procedures (Part I.C.). This guide provides advice on conducting an effective and acceptable search for an IACUC application. Selecting Databases Both searches (non-duplication and alternatives) need to be conducted in two literature databases each, i.e., a total of at least four searches should be represented in the application. Note that teaching protocols only require the alternatives search. Agricola must be used as one of the databases for the alternatives search (as this database systematically covers veterinary literature and literature on animal care and alternatives research). Agricola is also acceptable for the search for non-duplication, although for biomedical topics there are usually better options. Other databases often used for either type of search include (in rough order of usefulness): PubMed (aka the MEDLINE database, highly recommended for “biomedical” research, and any protocols involving surgeries), Web of Science, BIOSIS (best for wild animal studies), PsycINFO (for psychology and neuroscience), or SciFinder (for biochemistry; note that SciFinder searches both the MEDLINE and Chemical Abstracts databases). At present, Google Scholar cannot be used as one of the databases, because the contents (exactly which journals, etc., are being searched) of Google Scholar are not publicly known and searches are not consistently reproducible. Academic Search Complete is also not recommended, as it is too general and not deep enough in bioscience coverage. Conducting the Search for Non-duplication 1) Identify your search terms using one or two-word phrases. Use terms that describe the core concepts of your work with. These will usually include: the name of the subject organisms (both common and scientific names). You may use specific species names and/or group names, e.g. muridae, primates, or anurans. the topic, process, or phenomenon being studied names of particular systems, genes/proteins, being studied (be sure to include all major synonyms, abbreviations, name variations, and gene symbols); conditions or habitat being studied major methodologies being used 2) Organize the terms into concepts and try to identify any additional synonyms, connecting synonyms with “OR.” Also, if you are using Web of Science, BIOSIS, or Agricola (not PubMed, SciFinder, or PsycINFO^), consider whether each term has variants (e.g., a plural form) that you can capture using a truncation symbol (e.g., weightless* will find weightless, weightlessness): mouse OR mice OR mus musculus zero gravity OR weightless* OR low earth orbit transcrip* OR translat* OR express* IFN OR IFNG OR IFG OR IFI OR interferon gamma OR Type II interferon* 3) Run a search on each set of synonyms representing a general concept. Note the number of hits you get. If you get a very small number (<500), you should probably try to think of additional synonyms. ^These databases find synonyms for the user automatically. 1: mouse OR mice OR mus musculus 3,489,892 2: zero gravity OR weightless* OR low earth orbit 62,781 3: transcrip* OR translat* OR express* 502,382 4: IFN OR IFNG OR IFG OR interferon gamma OR Type II interferon 47,193 At this point, you should have a search set for each of the major concepts of your study. If some of these are small (a few hundred hits or less), you can look through these results directly for relevant papers. Otherwise, you’ll need to combine your concepts to find what you are looking for. Mix and match these in ways that make sense: try them all together, but realize that this may be too limiting. Most databases will let you run searches using “set numbers” of results you’ve already run. Look in the Search History for the record of search sets you’ve run: 1: mouse OR mice OR mus musculus 3,489,892 2: zero gravity OR weightless* OR low earth orbit 62,781 3: transcrip* OR translat* OR express* 502,382 4: IFN OR IFNG OR IFG OR interferon gamma OR Type II interferon 47,193 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 0 1 AND 2 AND 3 141 1 AND 2 AND 4 6 If this search produces few hits (~<50), or all irrelevant hits, combine just some of your concepts. If you have concepts 1, 2, 3, and 4, try combining 1, 2, and 3; 1, 2, and 4; etc. You will possibly find relevant papers in one of these broader searches which didn’t come up in the more specific search (perhaps the more specific search happened to not use all the words you specified). Additional Tips: Some databases (e.g. Web of Science) can handle only a certain number of results at a time. If you get a result like “>100,000” in one of your initial searches, this means the result set is incomplete (it was too big to handle). To get a smaller set you can work with, you’ll need to either conduct your searches a couple of times, each in a specific date range (e.g. 1965-1990, 1991-present), or run a new single search which combines the problem search with another one of your core concepts, e.g.: (mouse OR mice OR mus musculus) AND (zero gravity OR weightless* OR low earth orbit) If you search on phrases (e.g. “anabolic steroids”), and your initial searches produce a small number of hits, try broadening the search, e.g. to just “steroids.” There may be some sacrifice of precision in order to try to capture relevant records which happen not to use a particular phrase. Some of your searches may retrieve large numbers of hits (>500) that are unrealistic to read through (and saying you did read them tends to raise a red flag with the committee reviewers). Try instead to find a way to narrow your search. When reading through your hits, you may also come across additional terms that you should have included in your search. You may need to go back and add these terms in to get satisfactory results. If your searches consistently produce few or too many hits, it’s a good point to check with the biology librarian. 4) Reporting results of your search Include in your application a printout of the keyword searches you conducted and the number of hits. (Do not include lists of the search result citations.) Most databases have a “Search History” or similar page that will show this list of searches conducted. It is helpful to the reviewers to circle or mark the searches which the investigator looked at the results. Either on this sheet or in the application, the names of the databases used and the dates the searches were conducted must be shown. A short written summary of the searches, addressing the searches and focusing on any literature found which closely pertains to the proposed research, must be provided in the application (Part 1.C.) If similar work is found, the application must address how the proposed study is distinct from these prior publications. Conducting the Search for Alternatives The intent of the alternatives searches are to address the possible suitability of using lower organisms to address the experimental question, and to address the availability of other possible replacements, reductions, or refinements to the experimental procedures. As before, identify your search terms. These will likely include the organism (e.g. mouse) or often a broader group or organisms (It’s likely you’ll find literature on care and handling of fish, but unlikely you’ll find such literature specifically for rainbow trout.) Other terms or concepts you include in your search will depend on your experimental procedures. It is helpful to think from the animals’ “point of view” -- what is being done to the animal that is potentially distressing or painful? You should search for literature regarding the significant interactions you have with the subject animals, e.g.: Surgical procedures including anaesthesia and post-operative care Handling, capture, transport, release of wild animals Marking and tissue sampling Stressful experimental treatments Animal housing and husbandry Methods for sacrifice and euthanasia Additionally, there are a variety of keywords that can be used to help identify literature on animal care and alternatives specifically. Some of these may be appropriate to include in your search. (However, the alternatives literature search should address the procedures of your proposed research and not rely exclusively on these terms.) Ex.: Animal care, alternative*, refinement*, welfare, animal test*, in vitro, simulat*, model, cell culture, tissue culture, noninvasive, unobtrusive As with the search for non-duplication, organize your terms into concepts, and conduct your searches. Report the results of the search as for the search for non-duplication. The written summary should describe the investigator’s efforts to seek and evaluate alternatives and refinements to the proposed procedures. Additional Tips: Some searches may return zero hits. In some cases this is inevitable, but a search that consists of little but zero hit returns raises a flag. Try to broaden the search (search for mammal* instead of mice; surger* instead of lymphectomy). If all else fails, try the term “animal care” along with the organism group you’re studying. This is also a good point to check with the biology librarian. Be on the lookout in your hit lists for additional terms, synonyms, and concepts that you should include in your search. Terms used in the animal care literature for these concepts may not be as familiar as the biology terms in the non-duplication search. Summary The literature searches are a critical component of compliance with animal care regulations. Conducting the searches adequately requires a systematic approach and a sense of thoroughness, to determine with confidence whether the proposed research complies with the standards for nonduplication and appropriate technique. Miami’s biology librarian, Kevin Messner ([email protected]) is available at any point in the process to advise on running the searches and help solve problems.