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Seminar in Meta-Analysis: Gray Literature

Grey Literature- Where to Find It, by Category


  • ​​Authors can upload figures, datasets, media, papers, posters, presentations and filesets. Free but requires registration.

The following resources can be searched for conference papers and abstracts.  Be sure to search the websites of individual organizations as well.



Trial registries can be used to search for protocols and to identify unpublished studies and outcomes.  Resources with the broadest global perspective are listed first.  

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Grey Literature

Grey literature is created by researchers and practitioners in various fields, but is not controlled by commercial publishing. The groups that produce grey literature may be government, industry, advocacy or other organizations that disseminate information in the form of reports or working papers rather than by publishing scholarly articles in commercial journals.

Grey literature can be found in the form of:

  • reports
  • conference papers, posters or proceedings
  • policy documents
  • preprints
  • data sets
  • standards
  • translations
  • clinical trial data
  • factsheets
  • dissertations
  • committee reports

This diagram provides a visual representation of the various sources and types of grey literature considered when conducting a thorough review of the literature:

Image obtained from: Rose Relevo Slide Presentation from the AHRQ 2011 Annual Conference

Grey literature is vital for developing a more complete view of research on a particular topic and for producing systematic reviews and other rigorous approaches to evidence synthesis. Grey literature can be a good source for data, statistics and for very recent research results. Because there's no publisher-enforced limitation on length, these reports can be much more detailed than the journal literature. And they can help to offset issues related to publication bias such as:

  • publication lag  Results of studies may appear in grey literature, such as conference proceedings, a year or more before they appear in a peer-reviewed publications.
  • positive result bias  Study results that show a negative or no effect are published in scholarly journals less often than those that show a positive effect. Those negative results may be found by reviewing the grey literature.
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