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Finding Grey Literature

Finding Grey Literature

Official Publications

Library Services hold large collections of UK official publications in printed form and online via FindIt@Bham. Some publications are freely available from government websites.  It is traditional to divide UK official publications into two main types: Parliamentary, which includes the devolved parliaments and assemblies, and Non-Parliamentary, e.g. the reports and other publications of individual government departments and agencies, such as the Department of Work and Pensions.

For more information on how to track down the different kinds of Official publications see the Official Publications guide.

Websites for Patient and Consumer Groups

Many literature searches will benefit from including reports and webpages which reflect the interests of the end-user, such as patient groups, service users, students or customers. 

  • Patient UK
    Details of 1920 UK patient support organisations, self help groups, health and disease information providers, etc. Each entry is cross referenced and details are checked annually.
  • Patient Information Forum
    For health information producers, for all sectors and at all levels. The network has over 450 members across the UK in the NHS, voluntary, public and commercial sectors and in academia.
  • Self Management UK
    From the NHS, for people living with long-term health conditions. Formerly called the Expert Patients programme.
  • HealthWatch
    UK charity that supports and encourages scientific testing of conventional, complementary and alternative medicine and therapies.
    UK national advisory group which supports greater public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research.
  • Health talk online
    Health Talk Online contains videos and written information recording experiences of health and illness from more than 2000 people. The information is based on qualitative research undertaken at the University of Oxford. Subjects covered include cancer, dying and bereavement, pregnancy, later life and young people.
  • Patient voices
    Uses digital story-telling to improve medical professionals' education and influence policy-makers.


For information on charities, try Charity Choice.

You should also be able to find relevant pressure groups, unions and suchlike by searching the web.

Other useful websites include:

You may however sometimes get better results using Google Advanced Search with as suffix. 

Specialist Search Engines

  • 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 -
    A 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.
  • GreyNet 
    The Grey Literature Network Service was founded in 1992. The goal of GreyNet is to facilitate dialog, research, and communication between persons and organisations in the field of grey literature. GreyNet further seeks to identify and distribute information on and about grey literature in networked environments.



Regulatory bodies

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    The United States Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
  • International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP)
    The mission of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform is to ensure that a complete view of research is accessible to all those involved in health care decision making. This will improve research transparency and will ultimately strengthen the validity and value of the scientific evidence base.
  • U.S
    Database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.
  • European Medicines Agency
    The mission of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is to foster scientific excellence in the evaluation and supervision of medicines, for the benefit of public and animal health in the European Union (EU).
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