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The InterNICHE Studies Database is a free-access academic database focusing on innovative and humane education and training, including alternatives to animal experiments, in medicine, veterinary medicine and biological science. It provides references, abstracts and other details for over 750 published studies, searchable by discipline, author and keyword. Each study has been researched and included for its relevance to the pedagogical, ethical and economic issues presented by the use of animals, alternatives and technology in education and training.

The Studies Database has been published to facilitate free access to information that can support curricular transformation and replacement of animal experiments. Functionality that allows comments on each study has been integrated into the resource to encourage critique and debate.

The database can help identify specific alternative tools and approaches to enhance practical classes, and in parallel with the InterNICHE Alternatives Database can be linked into alternative search strategies for universities and training centres. Links from individual studies to the PubMed database allow users to identify related citations.

The contents of the Studies Database reflect major themes such as technological innovation, experience of implementation, assessment and comparative studies. The studies can provide valuable information on topics ranging from teaching objectives, the hidden curriculum and conscientious objection to alternative physiology classes, microsurgical training and haptic technology.

Studies about cutting edge technology and techniques in medical training, often developed to ensure effective training and to help guarantee patient safety, are included for the latter’s impact in replacing animal experiments and consolidating the implementation of non-animal training techniques. As an example of its potential, the Studies Database provides an opportunity to research the evolution and assessment of virtual and augmented reality for laparoscopic surgical skills training.

Access to the studies can help lift the level of the debate concerning curricular transformation. By including some studies in favour of harmful animal use, the database allows for dissection of their claims, and encourages further refinement of the arguments for full replacement. Studies with valid arguments in support of the use of animal cadavers, organs and tissue - but which do not question the killing of animals - are joined by those that explore ethical sourcing, thereby encouraging critical engagement. And discussions about the inclusion or exclusion of cadaver dissection in human medicine curricula can offer lessons in the potential relevance of dissection within veterinary medicine and zoology studies.

The database is scheduled to double in size to over 1500 studies during 2012. New functionality, including linking studies to relevant products listed in the Alternatives Database, the availability of full versions of selected papers, and inclusion of more non-English studies, will also be introduced.

Please credit the InterNICHE Studies and Alternatives Databases if you use them for a project or paper. Feedback and suggestions for new content is welcome!