In June 2018, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) Medical Library launched its new library consultation service Systematic Search Services for the LKCMedicine community, as well as the National Healthcare Group. Our aim is to support the publishing of systematic reviews and to provide assistance in various stages of the systematic review in the areas of Medicine and Biomedical Science.

In Standards for Systematic Reviews Standard 3.1.1 by the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that a librarian or other information specialist trained in systematic reviews be involved in the planning of the search strategy. Other benefits of using our service include shortening the duration of the search. Librarian involvement also provides an objective and independent perspective in constructing the search strategy.

Trained Information Specialists

Our Medical Librarians are able to craft complex searches using a combination of keywords and controlled vocabulary. We work closely with subject experts in order to come up with a search strategy with high sensitivity, that will be able to retrieve all relevant research. Through on-the-job training and specialised workshops, we gain the necessary skills required for expert searching not just for systematic reviews, but other forms of study design as well.

We provide support and advice in the following main areas during our one-to-one consultations:

  • Formulating the research question
  • Selection of appropriate databases and other resources to search in
  • Crafting a search strategy using appropriate keywords and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • Database or resource-specific search methods and techniques
  • Translation of search syntax across selected databases
  • Search methods for locating Grey Literature
  • Citation Management and Systematic Review software
  • Search review updates
  • Reporting of the search methods for transparency and reproducibility

Workshops on Systematic Reviews

As part of Systematic Search Services, we offer introductory workshops on systematic reviews which cover areas such as advanced search techniques, design of search strategy as well as use of software that support the systematic review process. We also offer information literacy workshops on searching, citation management and scientific writing skills in order to promote critical thinking and life-long learning. These workshops can be customized by content covered and duration.

We are currently exploring ways in which text mining and text visualization software can help in search strategy development, and hope to offer information sessions or even workshops in this area in the near future.

Feedback on Systematic Search Services

Below are a couple of comments from our users which attest to the usefulness of the service.

“I met with the Medical Librarians to share my project scope. After understanding the research question and agreeing on the search terms, the Librarian completed the search on PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library, and compiled a list of abstracts for review. After my team identified the list of articles for full-text, the Librarian assisted in extracting them and sending them to me. The whole process took no longer than a month!”

– Adjunct Assistant Professor

“The consultation and assistance provided in searching the databases have helped me to understand search strategies better, making future literature searches more effective. The help provided in searching really makes our work progress much faster and more efficiently”.

– Research Associate

For more information on LKCMedicine Medical Library’s Systematic Search Services, and/or to arrange for a search consultation, do drop us an e-mail at