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Grey Literature: Getting Started

This guide provides you with resources to find grey literature in nursing.

Grey Literature

What is Grey Literature?

Grey Literature are non-conventional publications. These can include, but are not limited to, the following types of materials:

  • Reports (advanced reports, technical reports, statistical reports, market research reports, etc.)
  • Theses
  • Conference proceedings
  • Bibliographies
  • Technical specifications/standards
  • Official documents not published commercially (government reports).

Because of the non-conventional nature of grey literature, it can be difficult to locate and obtain. Often, grey literature is not indexed or included in conventional databases. Because of this, it must be sought out, generally on the web, but sometimes directly from the researchers or organizations producing the materials.

Why is Grey Literature Important?

There are various reasons why grey literature is important including the following:

  • Vital for developing a more complete view of a specific research topic.
  • Key when producing a systematic review and for evidence synthesis.
  • Good source for data and statistics.
  • More detailed reports due to no publisher-enforced length for the document.
  • Limits publication lag between production of data and publication in a journal.
  • Eliminates positive result bias of journals and allows negative results to be made public.

Grey literature generally has more breadth and depth than what is typically found in a journal article. For instance, a thesis may contain data that was never included in the journal article that is ultimately published using the thesis data. Datasets provide much more information than will ever be included in a journal article destined for a scholarly publication. In addition, grey literature is becoming increasingly more accessible via the web on government websites, organization/association websites or institutional repositories/libraries.