4 Ways to Utilize Grey Literature in the Research Process

| Research Blog

Grey literature is a great asset for researchers of all disciplines, and includes materials that are unpublished, or published in sources that are not typically included in bibliographic databases. Grey literature can include theses, posters, reports, data, and other formats. Whether you are interested in toxicology, health policy, or biostatistics, there is grey literature in your area of interest. Read on for 3 ways to utilize grey literature in your research.

  1. Diversify and Expand your Writing Resume

We all know not every conference material created goes to publish, but why not make the most of your poster or presentation through sharing non-publishable material on sites like Grey Literature Network Service? Think about small posters, presentations or speaking engagement transcripts that can quickly be edited and sent to a Grey Literature group. Sharing the right material may make you more competitive when you push for a major paper publication; just choose wisely when deciding what to share.

  1. Hear a Broader Perspective

Grey literature can provide new and different views than an evidence-based review alone. While grey literature must be scrutinized and evaluated for limitations, it may provide new perspectives on a behavior or the environment you are studying. Grey literature can help researchers learn more about their community, and may provide information, including statistics, that simply are not included in peer reviewed journals due to word count. Dig into the grey literature after reading your respective primary, most reliable resources.

  1. Learn What Not to Do

Because there is a bias to publish successful studies and interventions, grey literature can provide antidotal examples of what not to do, and even provide a process evaluation or advice for future research. After reading about evidence-based practices, check out failed or small studies to see what you can learn.

  1. Use as a Springboard for Idea Generation

A quick review of grey literature can be inspiring, if nothing else. You can use grey literature to see possible ways to use theory, design community participatory research, or read preliminary findings that lack sufficient sample size. This is a great way to remedy writers block. Check out how other scientists are using GIS in innovative ways, or what other health policy experts think regarding new legislation.


If you want to check out Grey Literature, visit the Shimberg Health Sciences Library’s website at http://guides.lib.usf.edu/grey_literature to learn more about this exciting tool.


Articles to check out:

Publication bias: http://www.nature.com/news/social-sciences-suffer-from-severe-publication-bias-1.15787

State-of-the-evidence reviews: advantages and challenges of including grey literature: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17040510