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University Library Zurich

Animal Reseach - 3Rs Best Practices

For studies including animal research careful planning of experiments and complete reporting in scientific publications is essential (see also UZH Policy).

Planning: Literature search, Data Management Plan, PREPARE guidelines and preregistration

For studies including animal experiments a literature analysis is essential to prove that no alternatives to the use of animals are available, the adequate animal model / methods are used and the 3R principles are implemented. This information is requested in Form A: i.e., section 23, 25, 26, 35, 38 and 39.

A well-founded literature search is possible with database-specific search techniques.To conduct a search, these search techniques can be applied to any literature database:

  1. Define search query.
  2. Define search terms (incl. synonyms). If available search also with the database’s specific subject headings, like MeSH in PubMed or Emtree in Embase.
  3. Use appropriate literature database(s) and database-specific search techniques.
  4. If necessary, modify the search by using other terms, keywords, etc.

For further information about search techniques and strategie, check these links:

These literature databases are recommended for 3Rs literature searching:

Available anywhere

Only availabe within the IP range of UZH


Specific 3R filter query: Altbib

PMC (PubMed fulltext search) Web of Science (WoS)
Google Scholar (GS) (incl. fulltexts search) Scopus
Springer Nature Experiments (search for protocols only)  

Specific search filters exist for Embase and PubMed to search for animal-based studies/animal studies.
In addition to the search in databases consult also specific 3Rs journals. Most journals are indexed in the common databases.

The 3Rs Literature Search Guide (PDF, 280 KB)summarizes important steps of such a search.

Data Management Plan

With a Data Management Plan (DMP) you can structure your research data more efficiently. The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) guidelines gives you an overview about how you can manage your research data, means as open as possible and as closed as necessary.

Want to learn more? Go to our Research Data Management page.

PREPARE guidelines

PREPARE focuses on several factors which can influence the validity and outcome of animal experiments. They cover all levels of quality assurance, from the management of an animal husbandry and breeding operation to the individual procedures that are part of a study.

Pre-registration of animal experiments

The pre-registration of studies is meant to improve the quality of research projects and to render the research process more transparent. The registration of studies involving animals, free of charge and protected by copyright, is possible for example on the following online registries: Animal Study Registry, Preclinical Trials, OSF

Scientific publications

ARRIVE guidelines

The ARRIVE guidelines are designed to improve the reporting of research involving animals - to maximize published information and minimize unnecessary studies.

MERIDIAN network

MERIDIAN collects all reporting guidelines for research involving animals, including biomedical, preclinical, livestock, and veterinary research.

Open Access

Open Access means the free access to scientific information. Therefore it enhances the visibility and reuse of publications. The freely availabilty of the whole publication means to search and read the 3R specific information of a publication more easily. Mostly the methods section in publications is not explained in the title or abstract. But especially this section is important concerning the 3Rs. With Open Access and the use of fulltext databases like PubMed Central or Google Scholar this visibilty is enhanced.

To learn more how Open Access works and how to publish, visit our Open Access page.

Weiterführende Informationen


Christine Verhoustraeten, M Sc in Ecology, Liaison Librarian Life Sciences

Paulin Jirkof, Dr., Animal Welfare & 3Rs