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Systematic Reviews in the Health Sciences: Grey Literature

This guide will introduce you to the Systematic Review process.


There are many definitions of grey literature, but it is usually understood to mean literature that is not formally published in sources such as books or journal articles.  It may be described as ephemeral, invisible, informal, underground, etc., that is, literature that may be unevaluated, not peer-reviewed.

Grey Literature exists in many formats: reports-including preprints; preliminary progress and advanced reports; institutional, internal, technical, and statistical reports; research memoranda; state-of-the-art reports; market research reports; reports of commissions and study groups; as well as
* theses
* conference proceedings
* technical specifications and standards
* translations (not distributed commercially)
* bibliographies
* technical and commercial documentation
* official documents (issued in limited numbers)

Alberani VDe Castro Pietrangeli PMazza AM.  The use of grey literature in health sciences: a preliminary survey.  Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1990 Oct;78(4):358-63. 

Dissertations and Theses

Dissertations & Theses Database via ProQuest

Dissertations & Theses includes records for foreign dissertations beginning in the year 1637 and U.S. dissertations beginning with the first one, accepted in 1861. The database incorporates ongoing additions for dissertations and theses accepted as recently as last semester. Titles available as native or image PDF formats include free twenty-four page previews. For titles that are available full text from ProQuest, an "Order a Copy" link provides information about ordering options. Many of the foreign dissertations are available from the Center for Research Libraries.

Rutgers users have free access to the full text (PDF format) of Doctoral dissertations completed at Rutgers University since 1997. A small number of Rutgers dissertations from previous years are also available full text.

Rutgers University Theses and Dissertations

Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) have replaced printed theses and dissertations for most Rutgers graduate programs and are available through RUcore. Beginning with October 2007 degree date submissions, dissertations and theses that represent a terminal degree from the Graduate School--New Brunswick are submitted in online form only. Other graduate schools, including the Graduate School--Newark, the Camden Graduate School, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, and the Graduate School of Education, are participating in the program as well. The Mason Gross School of the Arts has made electronic submission optional.

Databases to Search

  • Ageline
    Database produced by the AARP that provides bibliographic information on aging in relation to psychology, health-care, sociology, economics, employment, public policy, etc.
  • Alt-HealthWatch
    Full-text database of periodicals, peer-reviewed journals, academic and professional publications, magazines, consumer newsletters and newspapers, research reports, and association newsletters focused on complementary, alternative and integrated approaches to health care.
  • CIRRIE Database of International Rehabilitation Research
    Contains over 30,000 citations of international rehabilitation research published between 1990 and the present.
  • Google Scholar
    Use the Advanced Search.
  • GreyNet
    The goal of GreyNet is to facilitate dialog, research, and communication between persons and organisations in the field of grey literature.
  • Hooked on Evidence
    Must be APTA member. Hooked on Evidence is APTA's "grassroots" effort to develop a database containing current research evidence on the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions.
  • Meeting Abstracts via NLM Gateway
  • National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
    The National Technical Information Service serves as the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information available today.
  • New York Academy of Medicine Grey Literature Report
    The Grey Literature Report is a bimonthly publication of alerting readers to new grey literature in health services research and selected public health topics. All resources are added and indexed in our Online Catalog.
  • OAIster
    OAIster is a union catalog of millions of records representing open access resources from collections worldwide.
  • OpenGrey aka OpenSIGLE (Europe)
    System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe contains 700.000 bibliographical references of grey literature produced in Europe.
  • PsycExtra
    Includes technical, annual and government reports, conference papers, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, consumer brochures and more.
  • PsycINFO
    Contains citations and summaries of journal articles, books, and technical reports in the field of psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines.
  • REHABDATA Database
    A literature database on disability and rehabilitation with more than 75,000 resources, including organizations, agencies, Internet resources, reports, and research projects. From the National Rehabilitation Information Center.
  • SPORTDiscus (at EBSCOhost)
    Contains citations to journal articles, books, theses, conference papers and other published research from around the world. Covers sport medicine, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and sport psychology.
  • TRIP (Turning Research Into Practice) Database Plus
    Performs a simple search in more than 60 databases related to evidence-based medicine.
  • Web of Science
    Includes citations from more than 8,000 peer-reviewed journals in the sciences and social sciences. Includes Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Science Citation Index.

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