Answered By: KRS Archive
Last Updated: Oct 19, 2020     Views: 1928

A literature search is the methodical investigation of formally or informally published sources of information about a particular topic or question. A KRS Team Member provides a comprehensive list of literature with no analysis or summarization and can include the search strategy as part of the final product.

After you request a literature search: 

  1. Within two business days, you will be contacted by a KRS team member who will be working on your search.  If your search request is for urgent patient care, a KRS searcher will contact you the same business day.
  2. Every literature search request is unique.  Once assigned to your request, your KRS searcher will review the details of your request to determine the type of literature search requested, what further information is needed to complete the request and/or request clarifications around your needs and expectations. 

    Additional factors that may need to be reviewed include:

    • the level of detail provided in your request
    • the deadline you have provided
    • the nature, scope and complexity or your search topic
    • the potential variety of sources of information to be searched to meet your needs
    • how you would like the literature search results organized
    • how the results will be used
    • and possible overlaps and linkages with other work already underway or completed in AHS.
What are the different types of literature searches, and what timelines are associated with each?

Urgent patient care searches

What is an urgent patient care search?  A literature search that is urgently needed to provide information for direct patient care

What can I expect? An urgent patient care search is completed within the same business day. Our hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Non-urgent patient care searches

What is a non-urgent patient care search?  A literature search that is directly related to patient care but is not needed within the same business day. The information gained from these searches is used to directly influence patient care by impacting assessment, diagnosis, treatment, or management.

What can I expect? After the initial contact, a standard search is normally completed within 5 business days. Different timelines may be negotiated depending up on the complexity and scope of the search.

Indirect patient care searches

What is an indirect patient care search? A literature search that is not directly or immediately related to patient care. The information gained from these searches is used to inform practice guidelines, policy development, administrative decisions, or ongoing research.

What can I expect? After initial contact, a non-patient care search is normally completed within 10 business days.  As non-patient care searches require a longer timeline due to their complexity and the need to search a greater variety of resources including AHS policies and procedures, grey literature, and published literature.

Complex searches

What are complex searches? Complex searches include, but are not limited to: systematic reviews, Strategic Clinical Questions, and other large scale projects. 

What can I expect? Complex searches often take longer than 10 business days to complete due to the scope and breadth of the project or topic.  As such, these large-scale requests are handled on a case-by-case basis, and are assigned to a KRS searcher according to availability/capacity.  After the search request is received and identified as complex, the KRS team member responsible for conducting the search will contact you to negotiate timelines and other details. KRS librarians will not search any databases we do not license; it is the responsibility of the requestor to complete literature searches in non AHS licensed databases.



  1. Your literature search will be provided to you using KRS standard literature search summary and literature search results templates or in another format should you choose to negotiate a more tailored product to meet your needs. 

    The standard literature search summary in the reply will contain:

  • Resources consulted in completing the search
  • Limits imposed, such as date ranges
  • Search strategy used 
  • Other details relevant to your specific search

Standard literature search results will include:

  • Full citations for all references included
  • Article abstracts where available
  • Links to articles where full text is available
  • Search strategy used 
  1. Your KRS searcher will follow up with you upon completion of the search, to see if further or different work is required and to provide you with an opportunity to provide feedback on the completed search.

Literature searching is subject to the limitations of the database(s), website(s), and other resources licensed and searched. Our literature search service involves sourcing accurate and authoritative information. However, we do not interpret the evidence provided. If critical appraisal assistance is needed, we can direct you to helpful tools and resources or put you in touch with experts on the topic.

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