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Education: Grey Literature

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in the School of Education


Work that has not been published in conventional books and journals is often referred to as grey literature. This term includes reports, working papers, theses and dissertations, newsletters, many official and governmental publications,  and conference papers. The boxes on this page suggest ways of finding grey literature and individual authors.

Evaluating Grey Literature

In all subjects, looking for unpublished material is a way of counteracting publication bias, however, grey literature has not been through any sort of peer review process.  Therefore it is particularly important that you evaluate material very carefully to decide whether to use it.

The AACODS checklist is designed to enable evaluation and critical appraisal of grey literature.

A Authority

A Accuracy

C Coverage

O Objectivity

D Date

S Significance.

It was prepared at Flinders University and there is a very helpful annotated checklist available.

Finding experts

You will need to adopt several different strategies to identify the experts in your field and those who may have unpublished material relevant to you.

Your database search may make it clear who the key authors are, and provide their email addresses.

Join relevant mailing lists eg Jiscmail

Use social networking sites designed for academic or professional use such asLinkedIn or Researchgate.

If you are in health or social care, try CHAIN - Contact, Help, Advice and Information Network

NHS people may join NHS Networks - click on the Connect tab to find people with similar interests.

Finding Grey Literature

OpenGrey - formerly SIGLE - is a multidisciplinary European database for "grey" literature. In some cases you will be able to click through to the full text of a document or report.  Coverage is best for the period 1980-2005, although more recent conference papers may be indexed in OpenGrey.

BASE - the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine - is good place to search for "grey" literature. On the Advanced screen  you can opt to omit articles and thus focus on reports, theses etc.

Grey Literature Report The report is a bimonthly publication of The New York Academy of Medicine(NYAM) alerting readers to new grey literature publications in health services research and selected public health topics.

Useful websites include:

Department of Health

National Archives - Health wellbeing and care archived webpages

You may however sometimes get better results using Google Advanced Search with as suffix or old Department of Health suffix as domain name. is a US registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world.