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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Grey Literature in Health Research

Sometimes, published journal articles and books don't fully cover the scope of your topic, and you need to expand your search to include other resource types. Consider grey literature!

What is Gray/Grey Literature?

The Twelfth International Conference on Grey Literature in Prague in 2010 arrived at the following definition:

"Grey literature stands for manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by libraries and institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers; i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."

What are some useful examples of Grey Literature?

  • Reports (such as white papers, working papers, internal documentation)
  • Dissertations/Theses
  • Patents
  • Conference Presentations/Proceedings
  • Policies & Procedures
  • Unpublished trial data
  • Committee Reports
  • Governmental Publications
  • Etc!

Within health research, grey literature can often be essential if not much has been published on a certain area. Though statistics aren't always grouped with grey literature, this guide also links to statistical sources since it can also be difficult to locate.

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