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Grey Literature: Finding Grey Literature

Finding Grey Literature

Searching for and locating grey literature can be time consuming. Grey literature is not generally indexed in bibliographic databases, so knowing how and where to find it can save you time.

These sources are appropriate to all disciplines and several types of resources so may be a good place to start:

  • OpenGrey – a database of grey literature in Europe
  • GreyNet International – an independent organisation promoting access and links to grey literature

The following boxes link to the different types of grey literature and where they can be located. For specific disciplines, please see the Discipline resources section of this guide.

Clinical practice guidelines

"Clinical practice guidelines are evidence based statements that include recommendations intended to optimise patient care and assist health care practitioners to make decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances. Clinical practice guidelines should assist clinicians and patients in shared decision making." Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines

To find clinical practice guidelines, check:

Clinical trials

Clinical Trails are "studies involving research participants which aim to test new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease, evaluating the effects of a medical or behavioral intervention on health outcomes. Clinical trials are conducted in phases following a pre-defined protocol and may take several years to complete" Sage Research Methods Online

See the:

Conference proceedings

Conference proceedings are a record of papers and posters presented at an association's conference or meeting. Papers presented at conferences may not be peer-reviewed and are sometimes classified as working papers. Many papers will go on to be published in journals at a later date. Conferences are also referred to as meetings, symposiums, seminars, colloquia, congresses, conventions, or roundtables.

Conference papers may also illustrate what is happening in research in a particular field - who is researching and what is being studied.

Conference proceedings are often indexed in databases, but it is also worth checking the relevant association's or conference's website to see if they are available there.

Databases

Some journal databases will index some grey literature, check the subject discipline pages to find the relevant databases for you.  There are also some databases that specifically index grey literature.

  • Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) - Australian based collection that focuses on policy research, includes over 34,000 resources, including grey literature reports, articles and data.
  • MedNar - Medically focused web search portal, that is an alternative to Google. It searches across medical society websites, NIH resources, US government websites and patents.
  • OpenGrey - Bibliographic information on 700,000+ European Grey Literature references. Includes content on Science, Technology, Biomedical Science, Economics, Social Science an Humanities.
  • Science.gov - access to research and development results and scientific and technical information from scientific organisations across 13 federal agencies in the US
  • WorldCat that let you search library collections from 170 countries.
  • WorldWideScience.org - Like MedNar, this is a real time web search portal that searches across scientific databases and portals internationally.

Data sets and repositories

Datasets

Increasingly, researchers around the world are making the datasets from their research available. These datasets are either described in a Dataset database, or made available from these databases.

Australian datasets

  • data.gov.au - Australian Government datasets 
  • Research Data (ANDS) - data for research from over 100 Australian research organisations, goverment agencies and cultural institutions

International datasets

Nature's list of Recommended Data Repositories

Government Publications

Government departments and agencies produce a lot of grey literature, including

  • Government reports 
  • policy statements
  • issues papers
  • surveys
  • maps
  • fact sheets
  • newsletters & bulletins

Many of these are listed on the department and agency websites.

Australian Government

Check Charles Sturt University Library's Australian Government Information guide for more links.

Overseas Governments

Hard copy grey literature

Large libraries - State, National and some University libraries collect hard copies of grey literature, this could include older publications or ones that are not disseminated electronically. While you may not be able to read this material online, it will usually be listed in the institution's Library catalogue, and may be available for loan through Inter Library Loans.

The National Library Trove service lists Australia wide library holdings of all sorts of materials.

Institutional Repositories

Institutional repositories are a record of research outputs from that research institution. Some of the items listed in the collection will include Open Access versions of the item that are freely accessible.  Repositories may include resources that are not be listed in databases, e.g. commissioned reports, datasets and policy and procedure documents. Many institutions have their repository available through the institutions website, and more often than not, the institution's library.

CSU's Institutional Repository

CRO (Charles Sturt University Research Output) contains the research outputs of Charles Sturt University's staff and research students.

Australian Institutional Repository listings

Australasian Open Access Repositories

Worldwide Institutional Repository listings

OpenDOAR

Patents

Patents

A patent is a a contract between the state and an inventor. Patents can be an important source of scientific and technical information and are often the earliest source of information on a new technology.

For help in searching this database see: SciFinder Training Topics.

For more inforamtions about Patents see our Statistics, Standards, Patents & Trademarks: Patents and Trademarks Library Guide

For information on how to use Lens see the their Support Center

Pearling

Reference List - Back in Time

Pearling the reference lists of relevant articles, may help you discover resources that did not show up in your database searches. You can then use an Internet search to help you locate these resources - remember that they may not have been published online!

Citations - Forward in Time

When pearling the citations of an article, you're looking at the resources that have cited the article you have identified.

Good places to start are:

Many of the databases that you search in may also include citation information, so check these as well.

Further reading

Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICOL the SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative Health Research 22(10), 1435-1443. doi:10.1177/1049732312452938

Policy Documents

Policy documents guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes, and are generally adopted by the governance body within an organisation. The organisation's website is a good place to start.

Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) - (formerly Australian Policy Online) is an Australian based collection of fulltext policy documents.

Preprints

Preprints are early versions of journal articles before they have gone through peer-review and been officially published. 

The peer-review can take many months, so preprints can be a good source of very current research. However the articles have not gone through peer-review you must evaluate each article carefully. It is also important to check if articles have subsequently been published.

Standards

Standards

Standards are official publications used by industry to describe specifications and procedures. They provide the rules and recommendations for 

  • Quality,
  • Safety,
  • Performance & construction,
  • Codes of practice,
  • Methods of testing,
  • Symbols, and
  • Terminology.

Statistics and Census Data

Statistical and dataset collections provide not only the raw numbers that you can use, but they may often provide you with the methodologies and applications of this information. Organisational websites for a discipline area will also often hold statistical information, or link to good resources.

Statistics

See also our Statistics, Standards, Patents & Trademarks Library Guide

Technical Reports

Technical reports detail the process, progress or results of a project or investigation that are submitted to the sponsor of that project. They include in-depth experimental details, data and results. They are produced by both the government and non-government agencies. Technical reports are also known as working papers.

  • Australia.gov.au - Technical reports available on Australian Government websites
  • National Technical Reports Library (US) - NTRL is the preeminent resource for accessing the latest US government sponsored research, and worldwide scientific, technical, and engineering information.
  • IEEE Xplore - publications from the IEEE(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and its publishing partners, including teh IET(Institute of Engineering and Technology)

Theses

Theses can be located through Institutional Repositories and Theses databases.

For more information about locating theses, please see Charles Sturt University Library's Theses & Dissertations webpage.

White papers

The term white paper was originally used as a flag to indicate the document was authoritative and informative in nature. They are used to argue a specific position or solution to a problem to an audience outside the organisation they come from.

A white paper is now a document released by companies, organisations and government agencies and used to advocate for a particular position and in a commercial situation, influence decision making of customers.

You can check government websites or commercial institutions for white papers.

Government - Australia

  • Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) - (formerly Australian Policy Online) is an Australian based collection of fulltext policy documents.
  • Australia.gov.au links you to the right information and service on around 900 Australian Government websites, as well as some state and territory sites.

Check Charles Sturt University Library's Australian Government Information guide for more information.

Government - International

Commercial bodies