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PhD in Translational Health Sciences: Grey Literature

Introduction to library and information resources for students studying for a PhD in the translational sciences.

Grey Literature Overview

Lister Hill Library "Grey Literature Overview"

General Grey Lit Resources

General Grey Literature Resources

Good Place to Start!

Grey Literature

What is Grey Literature and why do you need it?

DEFINITION:  (Synonyms: Gray literature or Fugitive 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 i.e. where publishing is not the main activity of the producing body” - GreyNet

WHY:  When conducting a literature review or systematic review you should also search for grey literature on your topic for the following reasons:

  • Reduces publication bias
  • Incorporating unpublished trial data can change statistical rsults
  • Inclusions
  • Grey literature is often more current!

Thank you to University of Pittsburgh, Systematic Review Workshop for the contents on this page

Types of Grey Literature

  • Census, economic, government (federal/state/local)
  • Conference proceedings and abstracts
  • Informal communications (phone conversations, email, meetings, etc.)
  • Newsletters
  • Patent
  • Registered clinical trials
  • Drug information
  • Research reports (either completed and uncompleted)
  • Technical reports 
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Blogs, Listserv archives,
  • Web sites
  • White papers

Institute of Medicine (IOM) Standards

IOM systematic review standards calls for grey literature searches to be conducted:

Take action to address potentially biased reporting of research results

3.2.1 Search grey literature databases, clinical trial registries, and other sources of unpublished information about studies
3.2.2 Invite researchers to clarify information about study eligibility, study characteristics, and risk of bias
3.2.3 Invite all study sponsors and researchers to submit unpublished data, including unreported outcomes, for possible inclusion in the systematic review
3.2.4 Handsearch selected journals and conference abstracts
3.2.5 Conduct a web search
3.2.6 Search for studies reported in languages other than English if appropriate


Conference Proceedings