Montana State University


Montana State University
P O Box 173085
Bozeman, MT 59717

Contact: Elizabeth Nicholas

Tel: (406) 994-6821
Fax: (406) 994-4790

Office of Research Compliance

Tel:(406) 994-6757

Institutional Animal Care and Use Program


A fundamental purpose of the federal regulations and ethical guidance governing humane use of animals is the minimization of animal pain and distress via the consideration of

  • Alternatives to the use of live animals
  • Alternatives to the use of painful or distressful procedures in live animals
  • Avoidance of unnecessary duplication of procedures involving animals

Requirements for Documentation

Federal regulations require that all protocol applications provide written documentation of the search for alternatives, including a written narrative description of the methods and sources used to consider alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals; and the written assurance that the activities do not unnecessarily duplicate previous experiments.

Researcher must provide

  • Names of the databases that were searched
  • Most recent date that the database search was performed
  • Time period (in years) covered by the search
  • The keywords used in the search. These search terms must be representative of the model and methods proposed in the protocol.
  • If a database search is not the primary means of considering alternatives, sufficient documentation must be provided to demonstrate the expert's knowledge of the availability of alternatives in the specific field of study. At minimum, the consultant's name and qualifications and the date and content of the consult must be listed in the protocol application.

The IACUC will review this information to assess that a reasonable and good faith effort was made to determine the availability of alternatives or alternative methods.

Alternatives Search Websites

UCI Libraries Animal Alternatives Database Search Techniques website [Sample searches for common procedures performed in rodents are also available].

Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (JHCAAT)

University of California Center for Animal Alternatives (UCCAA)

USDA Animal Welfare Information Center - Alternatives & Searches