Defining grey literature
Grey literature can be simply defined as material which has not been commercially published.
However, a fuller definition was proposed in 2010 by the 12th International Conference on Grey Literature in Prague:
"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 library holdings or institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."
Examples of grey literature
- Clinical trial data
- Conference & meeting materials
- Technical reports
- White papers
- Web site information
- Virtual discussions (listservs, blogs)
- Personal exchanges (email, letters, phone calls)
- Archival materials (manuscripts, personal papers)
Biomedical grey literature exists on the margins of the traditional, commercially-published scientific literature. Most researchers limit their searches to the familiar domain of peer-reviewed academic journals and edited books.
However there are advantages to exploring the peripheries of scientific information and communication, such as:
- Reducing publication bias - (the Cochrane Collaboration explains why this matters )
- Finding the most recent information on your topic
- Discovering new research perspectives and partners
If you choose to step beyond the well-mapped boundaries of biomedical information, this guide provides signposts to orient you on your journey. Keep calm and enjoy the trip!