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Grey Literature Resource Guide: Grey Literature

Grey Literature Defined

The term grey literature refers to all information that isn't commercially published. This includes the following types of documents:

  • Conference proceedings, abstracts, papers, posters, presentations, etc.
  • Clinical trials
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Regulatory documentation
  • Government reports
  • Grant proposals and applications
  • Social media posts

It is necessary to search for grey literature when creating systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Types of Grey Literature

The various sources and types of grey literature commonly searched when conducting a systematic review:


Image obtained from: Rose Relevo Slide Presentation from the AHRQ 2011 Annual Conference 9/20/11


Where to Begin?

As the scope of grey literature is extremely broad, consider the following questions in order to narrow down your search:

Who are your stakeholders?

  • Government?
  • Non-government?
  • Academic?

What kinds of literature are you interested in?

  • Theses and dissertations?
  • Conference proceedings?
  • Reports?
  • Statistics?

What time period or geographic/geopolitical area is relevant to your search?

Source: Introduction to Grey Literature for Health Sciences by Franklin Sayre


Based on a guide created by the Norris Medical Library, University of Southern California.

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