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Bridging Program Resource Guide: Grey Literature Sources

An information resources guide to support your online course work in the School of Pharmacy's Bridging Program

What is Grey Literature?

Grey literature is a valuable source of information, and includes resources typically inaccessible via traditional or commercial publishing.

  • Grey literature includes government reports, NGO publications, dissertations, conference proceedings, technical reports, publications of health organizations, blogs, wikis, pamphlets, presentation slides, correspondance with subject experts and more!

Where to Search?

Consider these key guides and resources that identify sources of grey literature:

Other Grey Literature Sources

Don't forget to check the following for grey literature!

  • Reference lists/bibliographies of research articles
  • Contact experts or authors (some data can be left out of studies!)
  • Newspapers and Magazines Guide

Plan and Document Your Search!

Always document your search methodology when searching grey literature. Details to keep track of include:

  • Resources searched
  • Date you searched
  • Actual search strategies
  • Number of results
  • Justification for any limits, or filters applied to search (publication date, language, etc.)
  • Justification for how you reviewed results (did you review all, or some?)

Well documenting your search methodology means that you will be able to explain how your results were retrieved. Doing this also allows you to accurately integrate your search approach into a larger piece of writing such as an essay, a poster, your thesis, etc. 

Prepare a search plan before you begin to collect and screen documents.   Use this template to organize and document your search results.

The Internet: Search Engines

Often, Google can be the best tool to search for documents and reports published on the web.  When recording your search methods, it is important to document the search terms used and the date the searches were performed.

Google Advanced will combine or exclude search terms, limit results by region, file type, i.e. .pdf (helpful when limiting to reports), domain (i.e. .gc.ca)

Google Scholar will retrieve documents from academic and professional sources. Note: You will have to browse through a lot of journal articles to find the grey literature reports. *There is no limit for "grey literature only."*

DuckDuckGo is another search engine like Google.  DuckDuckGo does not collect user information, which means your results will not be filtered based on your geographic location.

Link to some useful Google search tips can be found here.

Canadian Government Publications

These sources are useful for finding Canadian Government publications:

Clinical Trials

These sources are useful for finding clinical trials data: 

Theses and Dissertations

Health Statistics

These sources are useful for finding health statistics:

Repositories

Many universities have institutional repositories, which are online databases of publications by their members. Repositories can include publications by faculty and student dissertations and theses.