An industry association representing multiple groups involved in manufacturing particular chemical substances in Europe.


The scientific literature can provide an early indicator of potential changes in the regulatory status of chemical substances. Organisations representing different chemical sectors may therefore provide services to their members that keep them up to date with the latest relevant publications on the toxicology of their chemicals in humans and other animals, as well as their persistence in the environment. Bibra was asked to assist with this process for a particular group of chemical substances that are currently subject to regulatory scrutiny.

Project goals

Bibra was asked to design and manage an ongoing search strategy to identify publications relating to the (eco)toxicology and environmental fate of a particular group of structurally-related chemicals (and their potential alternatives). The searches would cover a range of different sources (PubMed, ScienceDirect, Google Scholar and the specific journal Environmental Health Perspectives). Relevant papers would be indexed to the key chemicals, species and endpoints being evaluated, and provided to the client.

Approach and outcome

The strategy developed involves daily, weekly and bi-weekly searches of the different sources, to ensure comprehensive coverage of the literature in a cost-effective manner. Bibra designed automated searches of PubMed and ScienceDirect using pertinent chemical-specific terms, where results would be emailed to the bibra scientists at daily (PubMed) or weekly (ScienceDirect) intervals. Manual searches of Environmental Health Perspectives are carried out every week, while Google Scholar is interrogated every 2 weeks using a defined set of search terms. As there is some overlap between the datasets covered by each different source, careful record-keeping is needed to avoid duplication of effort.

In some cases, it can be difficult to tell from first glance whether a particular paper will be useful to the client. A review, for example, where chemicals of interest are only mentioned once or twice in passing, may come up in literature searches, but may not provide the client with any pertinent new information, even if the review is focused on (eco)toxicology. If the suitability of a paper is not obvious from its title, its abstract is consulted prior to purchasing. Paper updates are also considered, for example if a report was previously made available in a ‘pre-publication’ form and has now been finalised.

Once purchased on behalf of the client, new relevant papers are uploaded, along with any supplementary information, onto the client’s own extranet. Bibra also adds the accompanying bibliographic details and abstract (ensuring it is correctly formatted) to relevant extranet fields. To allow industry members to easily find papers on certain chemicals or on aspects of toxicology (for example, epidemiology or specific endpoints like carcinogenicity and reproductive/developmental toxicology), bibra indexes each paper with corresponding key codes. Similar indexing of the bibra TRACE database has given us invaluable experience in quickly getting to grips with the key aspects of test data.

Bibra then composes and sends daily email alerts to the client, detailing the papers newly added. Typically, for this chemical group, this would be about 150 papers/month. This work enables the client to be rapidly informed of any key papers of interest, including those that may ultimately affect the regulatory status of their chemicals in years to come.

Bibra project team

Beth O Connell

Beth O’Connell

Principal Toxicologist

RSB/BTS and European Registered Toxicologist
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Helen Gregory 2

Helen Gregory

Senior Toxicologist

RSB/BTS and European Registered Toxicologist
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Tanya Diver 3

Tanya Diver

Principal Toxicologist

RSB/BTS and European Registered Toxicologist
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