This page was produced in collaboration with Dr Helen Marlborough of Glasgow University Library.
Grey literature is information like theses, reports, conference proceedings, clinical trials, policy documents or guidelines. This can be produced by a wide variety of sources such as national or local government, charities, or academics. It can be hard to find as it can "fall through the cracks" and not be indexed in the main databases and sources. This page outlines the main sources in health, but you should always consult the handbooks for the type of review you are conducting.
- The National Institute for Health Research (formerly the National Research Register) covers Research carried out in England and has a searchable archive which covers UK wide older research
- ClinicalTrials.gov produced by the US National Library of Health. This indexes trials in the US and worldwide.
- CenterWatch as a searchable database of listings of worldwide industry and government-sponsored clinical trials. Sponsors use this service to inform patients and their caregivers about ongoing clinical trial opportunities, which volunteers can then review and inquire about participating in.
- Current Controlled Trials allows users to search, register and share information about randomised controlled trials. Access to all the information on this site is free.
- Trials is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal from BioMed Central that covers the performance and findings of randomized controlled trials.
You can find a lot of useful information on the internet, but it can be hard to search and to judge the quality of what you find. Some search engines have an advanced search feature which helps filter out some of your search results. There are also more focused search engines such as Google Scholar, which search academic publications.
Here are some general tips to help you:
- use the advanced search option
- don’t use truncation
- AND is the default which means that the words you type must all be mentioned, link synonyms using OR
- specify the domains gov, ac or org
- exact phrase (don’t use truncation)
- with at least one of the words
- in the title of the article
- you can export citations to RefWorks
- DART-Europe - browse and search open-access research theses.
- EthOS - British Library beta site with free searching of more than 250,000 UK PhD theses. Some full text items available, but can be slow to download. Register or login to order an electronic version of a thesis. Use the advanced search to combine search terms with ‘And’, ‘Or’ or ‘And NOT’. Searches on Thesis Title, Abstract, LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) and Subject Keyword are some of the options available.
- Index to theses – theses accepted for higher degrees in Great Britain and Ireland. The standard search allows you to combine search terms with ‘And’ or ‘Or’. For example search for ‘Ischaemic’ AND ‘Stroke’ in the Title field. For example search for ‘Health Promotion’ OR ‘Health Education’ in the Title field. Searches on the Abstract are not available in the Index to Theses.
- Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
- Web of Knowledge (also known as the Web of Science and Science Citation Index) The default search allows you to combine search terms with ‘And’, ‘Or’, ‘Not’ and ‘SAME’. You can search specifically on ‘Conference’ as well as by topic and title. There is a good help section within this database. There are instructions on exporting references to RefWorks
- Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) Guidelines
- Turning Research Into Practice (TRIP) lets you identify the high quality clinical evidence for clinical practice.
- eGuidelines provides index and summaries of national and European Union (EU) clinical guidelines for primary and shared care, sponsored by independent professional bodies includes guidelines released by NICE; commended by the National Health Service (NHS) and summaries of working party guidelines.
- NHS Evidence - National Library of Guidelines (formerly a Specialist Library of the National Library for Health) The National Library of Guidelines is a collection of guidelines for the NHS. It is based on the guidelines produced by NICE and other national agencies. The main focus of the Library is on guidelines produced in the UK, but where no UK guideline is available, guidelines from other countries are included in the collection.
- National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidance covers three main areas: public health, health technologies and clinical practice.
- The NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries (formerly PRODIGY) are a reliable source of evidence-based information and practical 'know how' about the common conditions managed in primary care. They are aimed at healthcare professionals working in primary and first-contact care.
- SCIE practice guides a free online resource which bring together information, research and current good practice about particular areas of social care. The guides give users the opportunity to develop their own knowledge about what works well and apply it effectively in their day-to-day work.
- OAIster (University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service). Previously difficult-to-access academic digital resources.
- OpenDOAR - directory of open access repositories.
- Repositories of Primary Sources – more than 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for researchers.
Subject Gateways: evaluated information on the Internet