Save time with expert searching to answer your clinical questions

Time may be the most elusive aspect of clinical practice. The time required to search thoroughly for reliable and valid medical information may be unavailable to many clinicians on a regular basis. The College library aims to be a prime source of reliable clinical information for active practising registrants, which includes provision of timely literature search services by experienced medical librarians. Registrants are welcome to pose an unlimited number of questions to College librarians and all use of the library is confidential. Surveys of College library users demonstrated that 97% of literature search results answered the registrants’ questions and 99% were timely.

College librarians search a broad range of databases and unindexed literature dependent upon the nature of the question and the preferences of the requestor. For instance, registrants may request a quick update (e.g. recent reviews), evidence-based results (e.g. systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials located in the most relevant databases), a standard search (e.g. recent reviews and studies from most relevant databases) or an extensive search (e.g. all types of articles from many databases).

Search results are typically delivered to the requestor by email as a selected bibliography with links to online full-text articles, where available, through the library’s online journal subscriptions. Most often, a select number of full-text articles of particular relevance to the specific topic are also attached to the email.

Registrants may request copies of any of the articles in the bibliography. Two hundred copies of articles per year requested from the library are free to registrants. There is a C$3 charge per copy if a registrant orders more than 200 copies per year. All articles directly downloaded through the links in the bibliography or from the library website are free to registrants.

Locating relevant information to answer a clinical question is sometimes an iterative process; librarians send an initial search set, the requestor reviews and makes suggestions for refining the search, and results from this new search strategy are collected and delivered. Approximately 1,500 in-depth literature searches are done by College librarians each year, and this service has been identified by physician knowledge leaders as a valued aspect of College library services.

Registrants with library privileges are welcome to pose their clinical questions to the library by telephone (604-733-6671), email (, the College website, or fax (604-737-8582). When making a request, registrants should indicate their deadline.