Enhancing search efficiency by means of a search filter for finding all studies on animal experimentation in PubMed

Lab Anim. 2010 Jul;44(3):170-5. doi: 10.1258/la.2010.009117. Epub 2010 Jun 15.


Collecting and analysing all available literature before starting an animal experiment is important and it is indispensable when writing a systematic review (SR) of animal research. Writing such review prevents unnecessary duplication of animal studies and thus unnecessary animal use (Reduction). One of the factors currently impeding the production of 'high-quality' SRs in laboratory animal science is the fact that searching for all available literature concerning animal experimentation is rather difficult. In order to diminish these difficulties, we developed a search filter for PubMed to detect all publications concerning animal studies. This filter was compared with the method most frequently used, the PubMed Limit: Animals, and validated further by performing two PubMed topic searches. Our filter performs much better than the PubMed limit: it retrieves, on average, 7% more records. Other important advantages of our filter are that it also finds the most recent records and that it is easy to use. All in all, by using our search filter in PubMed, all available literature concerning animal studies on a specific topic can easily be found and assessed, which will help in increasing the scientific quality and thereby the ethical validity of animal experiments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing / methods
  • Animal Experimentation*
  • Animal Use Alternatives*
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • PubMed*
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Search Engine / methods*