Finding the hard to finds: searching for the grey literature in medicine

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Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for grey literature’ – LIBR534

Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for grey literature’ – LIBR534

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  • The web changes EVERYTHING Librarians adopt ways to find materials but special strategies are needed to identify and retrieve some literature. The field of GL has evolved into a world of its own with specific research methodologies, vocabularies, systems and solutions. Before exploring these methods, let's highlight some of the work that health librarians are doing in this area. Clinical literature on the internet continues to grow at an exponential rate particularly with the introduction of real-time applications … explosive growth of the web has had a significant impact on the production, access and distribution of grey literature such that "the difficulty of retrieval, which used to be a distinctive feature of grey literature . . . is now being minimized." For systematic reviews, there are three streams or channels where clinical information can be found: 1) electronic sources in the standard databases 2) print resources in journals and textbooks and 3) grey literature which can be “just about anywhere” online and in print – the challenge for us as information professionals is to develop strategies for locating this information. This is the point of my talk tonight.
  • Grey literature is used to describe materials not published commercially or indexed by major databases. GL may be of questionable relevance or quality but may still have an impact in research, teaching and learning. GL is occasionally the only source of information for specific research questions. While some GL may be published eventually, and may be easier to find, sometimes it never is. GL may not go through a peer review process, and its authority must be scrutinized. "Fugitive", hidden, invisible or literature in the deep web may be anywhere Informal communication is changing the notion of grey literature
  • Some researchers suggest that research that includes the grey literature may actually jeopardize the integrity of the work. Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came under scrutiny because a “… British newspaper found holes in the IPCC report on the potential of tidal wave power claiming it was based on information, sourced from the website of a commercial wave energy company and student dissertations. This points to a fundamental flaw in the IPCC report - the use of what is called grey literature .” This is where rigorous inclusion criteria will ensure that only the most relevant studies make it into the final analysis.
  • Conceptually ….I think it’s important to visualize the entire area of grey literature from materials that are most visible to the least likely to be found. I think to think of grey literature as a zone or area ….a kind of in-between metaphor stating with the idea of materials that are difficult to find and even more difficult to control bibliographically Definition: An ill-defined area that does not readily conform to an existing category or set of rules - Oxford English Dictionary
  • What’s missing?
  • Trends in digitization on the web are creating new sources of grey literature and data. e-mails blogs and even tweets can be considered fair game; even the Whitehouse archivist is archiving tweets about the Obama presidency.
  • Two columns: Grey literature (hard to find) Published literature (easier to find) n'Grey literature' is used to describe publications not published commercially or indexed by major database vendors the rate of growth of grey literature is three to four times that of conventional literature.
  • Searching for grey literature can be difficult to find and control Grey literature can be difficult to control bibliographically; some documents lack metadata or descriptive information, making classification or cataloguing challenging. Most libraries have collections of some grey literature but may be hesitant to add grey literature to their catalogues for it can be difficult to store and describe. … and e ventually the literature becomes invisible If you have good search skills, digital access = easier to find Open access publishing means that search engines can crawl web content We are engaged in more collaborative writing; and informal scholarly publishing via wikis and blogs But this doesn’t mean that the material can be found in any sort of timely fashion
  • So the question is what is the impact in medicine ??? Although not considered a scholarly form of publication, grey literature is produced by experts … and “serves scholars and lay readers alike with research summaries, facts, statistics, and other data that offer a more comprehensive view of the topic of interest.” In other words, gray literature provides invaluable perspectives to the peer-reviewed work in MEDLINE Medline is not enough… Grey literature opens doors -- fills in ‘evidence’ gaps Accessible on the open web via Google for free Outside mainstream scholarship & research; unconventional format Data-mining - think of hospital patient & epidemiological data WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Grey literature is an important source of information and arguably may become more important as the flow of information across the world continues to spread (Lawrence and Giles, 1999). According to Farace (1997) Although grey literature may not be scholarly or peer-reviewed, it is often produced by researchers and practitioners who have drawn on their experience. It can often be produced relatively quickly so is often very up to date, has much flexibility in application and is often more detailed than other types of literature. Published work on the other hand is often subject to restrictions such as a limited word count.
  • So why is grey literature needed for clinical trials?? “… published trials tend to be larger and show an overall greater treatment effect than grey trials . This has important implications for reviewers who need to ensure they identify grey trials… to minimise the risk of introducing bias into their review. “
  • Database searching & specialized databases and portals Searching obscure or small library catalogues Hand-searching Personal communication (i.e. telephone, email, tweets ) Scanning reference lists, bibliographies & academic CVs Googling (i.e. Google, Google Scholar) Contact experts in the field Blogsearch, podsearch, specialized directories
  • Document searches fully ; ask for help from peers Network; modify your strategies as needed Import citations into RefWorks Watch scholarly publishing trends; copyright & ‘self-archiving’ Identify relevant organizations to search Consult hotspots of grey lit expertise:

Transcript

  • 1. ’ Finding the hard to finds: searching for the grey literature in biomedicine’ Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for grey literature’ – LIBR534
  • 2.
    • "information produced on all levels of government, academia, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing"
    • ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997 - Expanded in New York, 2004
    • “… a body of materials [not] found easily through conventional channels such as publishers … frequently original and usually recent“
    • Wikipedia entry on ‘gray literature’
    Definitions of “grey literature”… Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 3. Grey literature…in the news Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’ …” The UN climate panel's credibility [was called into question recently] A British newspaper found holes in the IPCC report on the potential of tidal wave power claiming it was based on information, sourced from the website of a commercial wave energy company and student dissertations. This points to a fundamental flaw in the IPCC report - the use of what is called grey literature .” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3gm97icPVM
  • 4. In-between metaphor – grey zone… Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 5. Different types of grey literature
    • Theses & dissertations
    • Conference proceedings
    • Newsletters
    • Reports
    • Government documents (including NGOs, IGOs)
    • Informal communication (telephone calls, meetings)
    • Translations
    • Census, economic & other data
    • Conference proceedings & abstracts
    • Research reports (completed & uncompleted)
    • Technical reports, standards, patents
    • Videos
    • Clinical trials & practice guidelines
    Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 6. New sources of grey lit & data
    • e-prints, preprints, post-prints
    • emails, blogposts, even tweets
    • Web 2.0 communication channels
    • wiki articles & virtual worlds like Second Life
    • listserv archives (i.e. Google Buzz , Wave )
    • digital libraries (i.e. Institutional Repositories)
    • grey (gray) data; spatial data (ie. Google Earth )
    • meta-searching, federated searching, portals
    • databases of ongoing research
    • electronic & social networks
    • images, maps
    Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 7. Differences between grey and published literature Commercial interests based on economic models not scholarly Some make content free to be good corporate citizens Role of publishers Problems arise due to copyright, licensing issues New opportunities and roles for search-savvy librarians Impact on librarians Also difficult due to legal restrictions, space limitations and selection Difficult due to sheer volume & formats Archiving Generally stable Improving but ‘hit and miss’ Findability Excellent, edited, peer-reviewed Highly variable Quality Locked, gated access, $$$ (some OA) Free, open, immediate in most cases (some $$$) Accessibility High, increasing all the time Low (in most cases), free Cost Slow(er), due to costs & editing process Instant, due to self-publishing on the web, speed Speed of production Increasing, but at a more measured pace Increasing at exponential rate # of documents being published Published literature (easier to find) Grey literature (hard to find)
  • 8.
    • Traditionally, grey literature is hard to find & control
    • Difficulties with classification and cataloguing; storage
    • Shorter print runs lead to lack of availability
    • Eventually becomes invisible
    • Digitization trends = easier to find
    • Open access publishing
    • Search engines crawl web content
    • Collaborative writing
    • Informal scholarly publishing via wikis and blogs
    Shifts in grey literature Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 9. Impact in medicine
    • Although not considered a scholarly form of publication, grey literature is produced by experts … and “serves scholars and lay readers alike with research summaries, facts, statistics, and other data that offer a more comprehensive view of the topic of interest.”
    • Outten , C. Gray Literature. 2008
    • Medline is not enough…
    • Grey literature opens doors -- fills in ‘evidence’ gaps
    • Accessible on the open web via Google for free
    • Outside mainstream scholarship & research; unconventional format
    • Data-mining - think of hospital patient & epidemiological data
    Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 10. Why grey is needed in trials Hopewell et al. (2007) Grey literature in meta-analyses of randomized trials. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’ “… published trials tend to be larger and show an overall greater treatment effect than grey trials . This has important implications for reviewers who need to ensure they identify grey trials… to minimise the risk of introducing bias into their review. “
  • 11. Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 12. Extended search techniques
    • Database searching & specialized databases and portals
    • Searching obscure or small library catalogues
    • Hand-searching
    • Personal communication (i.e. telephone, email, tweets )
    • Scanning reference lists, bibliographies & academic CVs
    • Googling (i.e. Google, Google Scholar)
    • Contact experts in the field
    • Blogsearch, podsearch, specialized directories
    Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 13. Expert strategies
    • Document searches fully ; ask for help from peers
    • Network; modify your strategies as needed
    • Import citations into RefWorks
    • Watch scholarly publishing trends; copyright & ‘self-archiving’
    • Identify relevant organizations to search
    • Consult hotspots of grey lit expertise:
      • CADTH - Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies http://www.cadth.ca/index.php/en/publication/781
      • GreyNet - http:// www.greynet.org
      • Health technology assessment (HTAi) portal http://www.htai.org/index.php?id=229
      • OpenSIGLE - http:// opensigle.inist.fr
    Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for the grey literature’
  • 14. “… it’s all grey – until you find it” Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Librarian - March 2010 ’ Finding the hard to finds: Searching for grey literature’ htpp://slais.ubc.ca/index.php/Grey_literature The End