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Grey Literature for Health Sciences

Starting your Search

It can be difficult to know where to begin - and when to end - a grey literature search. Some considerations when developing a grey literature search strategy include:

Who would likely have written about your topic?

  • Government agencies?
  • Non-governmental organizations?
  • Academic institutions?
  • Industry?

What kinds of literature would help answer your research question?

  • Clinical trials?
  • Theses and dissertations?
  • Conference proceedings?
  • Reports?
  • Statistics?

Which time periods or geographic areas are relevant to your research?


Conference Proceedings


Clinical Trials

Studies have shown that only half of clinical trials conducted publish findings. The AllTrials initiative aims to ensure that all clinical trials are registered, and that results are ultimately published. Some trials results are only published in clinical trials registries such as the following:

Clinical Study Reports

Clinical study reports are extensive documents produced by pharmaceutical companies for regulatory agencies such as Health Canada, the FDA or EMA. Sometimes summaries of clinical study reports are available online, but obtaining the full report may not be possible.

Some pharmaceutical companies are now allowing researchers more access to the data included in CSRs and ongoing clinical trials. For more information see:

Clinical Practice Guidelines