Searching for Grey Literature
What is grey literature?
Grey literature is the term given to
non-traditional publications (material not published by mainstream
publishers), for example leaflets, reports, conference proceedings,
government documents, preprints, theses, clinical trials, blogs,
Grey literature is generally not peer-reviewed so it is very
important to critically appraise any grey literature before using
How to search for grey literature
Searching for grey literature can be problematic
as there is not a single database or resource which will allow you
to search for all grey literature. It can be very hard to find.
Additionally, grey literature is increasing and
new types of grey literature are appearing. The best way to search
for grey literature is to use a number of different sources: online
databases, websites and search engines.
Sources of grey literature information
This is a selection of sources you can use to search for grey
literature. This is not an exhaustive list and there may be other
useful sources of information available.
Please ask your subject
librarian if you need more advice on searching for grey
York St. John's library catalogue will contain details of any grey
literature held by the library. This is a useful starting
The library subscribes to a large number of bibliographic
databases. In addition to journal articles and books, many of the
databases also index certain types of grey literature (e.g.
conference proceedings, clinical trials, dissertations, etc.).
Reviews and Methodology Databases
Specialist databases containing systematic reviews and methodology
information from ARIF (Aggressive Research Intelligence
Searches the catalogues of 24 university and research libraries,
including the British Library Public Catalogue. Includes grey
literature held by these libraries.
Register of randomised controlled trials (includes NHS trials)
Global Health Observatory
The Global Health Observatory theme pages provide data and analyses
on global health priorities. Each theme page provides information
on global situation and trends highlights, using core indicators,
database views, major publications and links to relevant web pages
on the theme. Incorporates WHO Statistical Information.
Index to Theses
Listing of theses with abstracts accepted for higher degrees by
universities in Great Britain and Ireland since 1716.
Register (NRR) Archive
Archive of the records of the National Research Register (NRR)
Projects Database 2000-2007. Please note that this database is no
longer being updated.
Multidisciplinary database covering open access digital
to 700,000 bibliographical references of grey literature produced
in Europe. OpenGrey replaced OpenSIGLE in June 2011 and covers
Science, Technology, Biomedical Science, Economics, Social Science
Comprehensive health information for patients. Includes full-text
links to over 800 patient information leaflets.
Search engines can be a useful tool in locating grey literature on
the web. It is good practice to use more than one search engine,
click on the link to see Phil Bradley's list of search engines.
Free information and research on all aspects of social care and
social work. It indexes government documents, reports, papers, grey
literature and book chapters covering all aspects of social
A free clinical search tool covering a range of UK and US clinical
effectiveness resources and evidence based guidelines.
Research Network Study Portfolio
Details of studies funded by the NIHR, other areas of government
and non-commercial partners from January 2008 onwards.