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Open Access Russell and Burch's 3Rs Then and Now: The Need for Clarity in Definition and Purpose

Russell and Burch's The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique was first published in 1959. A Special Edition containing the original text was reissued in 1992, after its ideas had gained widespread interest in the scientific community. In the Principles, Russell and Burch proposed a new applied science that would improve the treatment of laboratory animals while advancing the quality of science in studies that use animals. They introduced and defined the terms replacement, reduction, and refinement, which subsequently have become known as 'alternatives' or 'alternative methods' for minimizing the potential for animal pain and distress in biomedical research. Here we describe and explain the original definitions of the 3Rs in the Principles, examine how current definitions differ among themselves and from Russell and Burch's definitions, and suggest relevant considerations for evaluating all definitions of the 3Rs.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California, USA. [email protected] 2: Management Consultant, Hinsdale, Illinois, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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