Grey Literature

All you need to know to incorporate grey literature in to your work.

What is Grey Literature?

That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers.

From Grey Literature Report (Grey Literature Report). Accessed August 20, 2015.

Examples of Grey Literature

  • Unpublished clinical trials
  • Government or NGO reports
  • Conference proceedings
  • Dissertations
  • Clinical practice guidelines

Why is Grey Literature Useful?

Grey literature sources may be the only information available on certain topics and in certain contexts. Incorporating a structured grey literature search and resources in your projects and research may minimize publication or reporting bias. Grey literature findings may counteract the tendency toward exaggerated effectiveness of therapeutic interventions often found in traditionally published literature (which tends to have positive findings).

Grey Lit Essentials

  • Set your limits up front. You cannot reasonably search everything on the Internet. At the same time, one resource is not enough. Consult other works in your area of interest and consider resources included as per the subject. Evaluate the authority of included resources.
  • Make a checklist of all the databases, websites, etc. that you will search. Define your search strategy (keywords and phrases to be used) before you start working.
  • Keep track of where and how you searched. Use a spreadsheet to track: date of search, terms used, # of results, and any notations.
  • If the option is available in a given resource, sign up for email alerts, feeds, etc. for your search. Monitor new results until project completion.