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Literature Searches

The library offers literature search assistance to Fellows and Members and RCS staff in order to support their clinical practice and professional activities.


Information Specialists can conduct literature searches on behalf of our members and staff, or provide guidance and help to those undertaking searches themselves. See below for the types of searches we can offer support with.


Who can use the service?

  • Members and fellows of RCS England
  • Affiliate members of RCS England
  • Faculty of Dental Surgery: MFDS, FDSRCS, Specialty Member, Associate
  • Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK): Full membership, Associate membership
  • Joint: MJDF, Joint FDS/FGDP membership
  • RCS England staff

If your search is part of a defined activity for educational purposes (e.g. part of a requirement for a certificate or degree) then we will not be able to conduct the search on your behalf. Please see below for the support we can offer.

I want to conduct my own searches:

You can access training resources to help you make the most of searching Medline and Embase on the Ovid Training Platform.  Please email or phone 020 7869 6556 if you would like any advice or support.

See also the below training guides: 

RCS Literature Search Service conduct your own searches using our databases

RCS Literature Search Service Guide to study types

RCS Literature Search Service Finding grey literature

I would like the library to conduct a search on my behalf: 

Surgeons require literature for a number of reasons so we have tiered our service to provide the most appropriate support:

  1. Quick search: The search aims to provide you with the relevant content to answer a narrow question, or to provide ~5-10 citations to support posters, presentations etc. It can also be used to find the most up-to-date information (i.e. the most recent systematic reviews on your chosen subject). Information Specialists will judge the right resource for searching and will provide a quick answer within a maximum of one week.
  2. Literature search (Narrative search): This is a search with a much wider scope but a non-standardised methodology. This is suitable for scoping if you want to conduct research, for answering more complex clinical queries, for supporting developments in services, or guidelines and protocols. This is a much broader search most likely conducted on databases Medline and EMBASE, and others as appropriate. We will discuss deadlines as appropriate but usually require two weeks for delivery of results.
  3. Systematic search support: According to Cochrane ‘A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question.’ They are focused reviews of the literature conducted in a systematic way (i.e. following established guidelines). They can take many months to develop and complete. The library does not have the capacity to undertake full systematic reviews. We do however offer support with systematic reviews. We can provide a scoping search which will help you identify core articles and will also help you to consider which search terms (MESH, EMTREE and keywords) you might want to include. We can also provide help and support with using the databases and reference management.

Fill in the relevant web form below to submit your request.

Alternatively fill in the equivalent PDF form and email to

RCS Quick search request

RCS Narrative search request

RCS Systematic search support request

RCS Staff search request - we also recommend this form for non-clinical external searches (e.g. education, training, health management and policy topics)

Information Specialists conduct searches using Ovid Medline and EMBASE and other sources where appropriate. We will respond to your request within two business days and agree a deadline for your results.

Search request web forms:

Quick search request

Narrative search request

Systematic search request

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