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Grey Literature: Overview

Resources to support grey literature for research


The term Grey Literature has been given many definitions
  • Everything published outside of books and journal articles
  • publications that are not acquired or located through commercial vendors
  • documents that cannot be identified using an index or electronic database

Grey Net, the Grey Literature Network Service provides the following definition:

"Grey literature stands for manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by libraries and institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers; i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."


The list of the different types or formats of Grey Literature is extensive.


Examples of grey literature are

  • Bibliographies
  • Government Documents
  • Posters
  • Standards
  • Online Repositories
  • Conference proceedings
  • Clinical trials
  • Websites
  • Social media

Unsure if the format you are currently reviewing is classified as Grey Literature.

Refer to GreyNet's list of document types for more formats

Grey Literature Checklist

Listed Below are selected databases, repositories and website gateways.

This is not a comprehensive list but relevant to areas of research at Cabrini.

The following comprehensive checklist is recommended particularly for systematic review research.

Grey Matters : a practical tool for searching health-related grey literature. Ottawa : CADTH; 2022

Depending on your project proposal there will be more subject specific GL resources to search.


Please always consult with the librarian by email when planning your search to identify other GL resources.

When do I search for Grey Literature?

Depending on your research or information topic, it may not be necessary to search a wide range of resources 

Grey Literature should be considered for inclusion in some of the following examples

  • A Systematic review that requires a comprehensive search of ALL available information on the topic
  • A new concept or condition with no published studies in peer review journals
  • Looking for other grey literature for updating local policies and procedures
  • Offers diverse sources of information eg. investigating local community projects
  • Searching for unpublished studies on a new drug for clinical trials research


Evaluation of a Grey Literature Resource

The checklist is based on six key criteria

Grey literature has not been through any sort of peer review process.  Therefore it is particularly important that you evaluate material very carefully to decide whether to use it.

The AACODS checklist is designed to enable evaluation and critical appraisal of grey literature.

A Authority

A Accuracy

C Coverage

O Objectivity

D Date

S Significance.

The AACODS checklist developed by Jess Tyndall of Flinders University is a useful checklist for grey information.

Tyndall, J. AACODS Checklist. Flinders University, 2010. Click here for the checklist.

Please refer to the checklist for detailed explanation of each checklist prompt.


Recommended Reading

Where to search for grey literature

Cabrini Discovery Search - our discovery layer searches across other websites and online resources that are open access as well as subscribed ebooks and ejournals.

Scopus and Web of Science are also recommended.  

If you have affiliated access through Monash or Melbourne Universities please access these databases from these channels.