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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Health Policy, Management & Evaluation (HPME)

What Is Grey Literature?

Book pages.Grey Literature is any literature that has not been published through traditional means. It is often excluded from large databases and other mainstream sources.

Leaving grey lit out of a systematic review excludes a major section of the available research. To avoid bias and to ensure that the review is as thorough as possible, always search grey literature.

CADTH's "Grey Matters" guide lists many resources. As well, the CRD guide and Chapter 6 of the Cochrane Handbook mentioned earlier in this guide include links to a number of grey literature sources.

“Pages,” Alexandra*Rae Creative Commons BY 2.0.

Grey Literature Search Tips:

Appraising Grey Literature:


Theses and Dissertations

Students conduct both systematic reviews and original studies for their theses and dissertations. These texts are not usually included in major databases.

U of T’s Theses and Dissertations in the Sciences research guide is an excellent resource, with links for both U of T theses and dissertations and those from other institutions.


Conferences are nodes of new research, often featuring studies before they appear in journals.

For more help, see also UTM's Research Guide on Searching for Conference Proceedings

Grey Lit Sources

This list provides only a small selection of producers and collectors of grey literature. Don't forget to also identify additional topic or field-specific grey lit sources, which can include doing footnote chasing in relevant journal articles that you've already found.




Institutional Repositories

Many institutions have institutional repositories, online databases of publications by their members. These can include publications by faculty and student dissertations and theses.

Data and Statistics

Government Documents

Government bodies frequently publish reports and studies on topics relevant to health science. In Canada, government bodies at both the national and provincial levels produce relevant material.



Clinical Trials Databases

Newspapers and Magazines


“Newspapers B&W (4),” NS Newsflash Creative Commons BY 2.0.

Newspapers and magazines can be helpful sources of non-academic information.

U of T's research guide on Newspapers includes thorough information and some databases that also index magazines. You can also look up individual magazines in the library catalogue to determine our access.

Searching the Web

Sometimes, the best way to find grey lit is to search the Web. Different search engines have their own search algorithms that will pick up different results.

When searching Google, it helps to use versions from different countries. If you are looking for grey lit from the UK, for example, use Google UK to find results from that country. Check this list of all Google domains for different countries.

Another useful search engine is Duck Duck Go. Duck Duck Go does not collect user information and therefore results are not filtered based on your personal profile.


“keyboard detail view – macro,”  photosteve101  Creative Commons BY 2.0.

Contacting Experts and Authors

Often, writers of systematic reviews find that some data is left out of studies. In such cases, a good option is to contact the author of the study.

Experts in the field can also be rich sources of information. Talk to an expert to find out:

  • Studies or information you have missed
  • New aspects of your research topic to consider
  • Sources of grey lit