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Pharmacy Preceptors: Grey Literature Sources

What is Grey Literature?

Grey literature is a valuable source of information, and includes any literature or document that has not been published via traditional or commercial publishers.

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

Don't Forget!

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 the template below (Word doc called "Grey Literature Search Plan") to organize and document your search results.

General Sources of Grey Literature

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 icon Customized Government Search


Canadian, US and International Government Documents Search - code courtesy of MADGIC, Carleton University
Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) Searches - code courtesy of GODORT


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.

Health and Pharmacy Grey Literature Sources