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Indigenous Health

Grey Literature

Grey (or gray) literature is a term for literature not published in traditional research publication venues like scholarly journals. It includes theses, whitepapers, reports, policy documents, and government data.

Because this information is often self-published by an organization, it is typically not peer-reviewed. However, grey literature serves a really important function because:

  • it provides a glimpse into what organizations are working on right now
    • without peer review, organizations can publish reports immediately after writing them
  • gives you an idea of what is going on outside of academia
    • non-profit and advocacy organizations, government, hospitals and clinics, all are more likely to publish about their newest programs in a report than an academic journal article
  • illuminates what is important to society at large
    • patient values are 1/3 or evidence-based practice

By type:

Searching for grey literature

With the exception of theses, grey literature is not held in academic databases. Instead, you can

  • identify and search within the websites of organizations relevant to your topic, focusing on pages like Resources or Publications
  • use google power searching to search across many websites at once

Google Power Searching

  • similar to using Boolean commands, "power" searching gives you the ability to be very specific when you search google.
  • specify that search results contain certain filetypes, search for synonyms of your search terms, or only come from websites with certain kinds of urls, like .edu or .gov
power search example function
site search (children AND "traumatic brain injury") results will all be government resources or websites
site search (children AND "traumatic brain injury") results will all be non-profit or advocacy organization documents or websites
site search (children AND "traumatic brain injury") results will all be university blog posts, webpages, or student theses
inurl "clinical trials" inurl:braininjury "braininjury" must occur in the url of the search results
filetype "traumatic brain injury" filetype:pdf retrieves only specified file type
synonyms ~guidlines "traumatic brain injury" retrieves results with synonyms to "guidlines"
combination: synonyms and inurl children ~guidlines inurl:"traumatic brain injury" Retrieves results which contain words that are synonyms to "guidelines", and have the words "traumatic brain injury" in the url

Google Custom Searches

NGO Search
NGO Search is a Google Custom Search that searches across hundreds non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGO Search is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). This is a spreadsheet of NGOs included in the project

IGO Search
International governmental organizations (IGOs) are organizations made up of more than one national government—examples include NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the WHO (World Heath Organization). The governments are the members. IGO Search is a Google Custom Search that searches across IGO websites. It is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). Here is the growing spreadsheet of IGO urls included in the search.