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Searching for Grey Literature


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Presentation at: Information Retrieval Topics: Grey Literature Search [Webinar]; September 9, 2015; Systematic Review Solutions Ltd. China, Malaysia and UK; Covered Topics: Grey Literature - Definitions, Advantages, Disadvantages, Typology, Resources, Importance in Reviews, Search Methods, Search Reporting and Documentation
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3322.6722
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Published in: Health & Medicine
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Searching for Grey Literature

  1. 1. Searching for Grey Literature Farhad Shokraneh Medical Information Specialist Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Presentation at: Information Retrieval Topics: Grey Literature Search [Webinar]; September 9, 2015; Systematic Review Solutions Ltd. China, Malaysia and UK DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3322.6722 Permanent URL:
  2. 2. What is grey literature? • Cochrane Handbook: – “literature that is not formally published in sources such as books or journal articles” • Wikipedia – “Type of information or research output produced by organisations, outside of commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels” • The Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature (GL '99) – “That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers” 29/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  3. 3. Characteristics • Officially/commercially/systematically: – Usually NOT published by a commercial publisher – Usually NOT distributed widely – Usually NOT controlled/indexed 39/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  4. 4. Why do we call it “grey”? • It is not as invisible as ‘darkness’: e.g. thoughts! • Here it stands • It is not as visible as ‘light’: e.g. publications 49/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  5. 5. Advantages: why is it important? • Sometimes the info are only available as grey literature not any other format (e.g. a thesis that never get published as a paper) • Usually high quality (e.g. PhD dissertation) • Usually free • Usually more detailed info (compare thesis versus journal paper published based on thesis) • Usually with quick output (again compare thesis versus journal paper and its process of peer-review, edit, formatting, indexing, etc.) 59/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  6. 6. Disadvantages: what are limitations? • Discovery – No comprehensive database – No indexing or bibliographic control/record/citation – No serious collecting body – No estimation of size of grey literature • Accessibility – Public or private? – Copyrighted or restricted with permission? – Permanent access or limited to time/place? • Quality evaluation – Content quality: Peer-reviewed or not? – Physical quality: Formatting and layout quality? 69/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  7. 7. What are types of grey literature? • Conference abstracts • Dissertations, and theses (academic reports) • Reports (proposals/protocols, progress reports, final reports, annual reports, etc.) • Technical specifications and standards • Newsletters • Patents • Data • Lecture presentations and notes • etc. 79/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  8. 8. Where to find them: Databases – Open Grey (Europe-focused) – British Library (International-focused) – Healthcare Management Information Consortium (HMIC) via Ovid SP (UK-focused) – National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (Us- focused) – PsycEXTRA (psychology-focused) – Repositories: OpenDOAR - the Directory of Open Access Repositories – etc. 89/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  9. 9. Where to find them: Dissertations and Theses – ProQuest’s Dissertations and Theses (International focus) – British Library’s EThOS Service – Open Access Theses and Dissertations Database – DART-Europe E-theses Portal (DEEP) – CINAHL (subject focus on nursing theses) – (UK-focused) – (Germany-focused) – Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) (International focus) – Theses Canada Portal – etc. 99/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  10. 10. Where to find them: Conference Proceedings – Web of Science • Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Science (CPCI-S) --1990-present • Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Social Science & Humanities (CPCI-SSH) --1990-present – EMBASE – BIOSIS – Zetoc – etc. 109/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  11. 11. Where to find them: Clinical Trials – ClinicalTrials.Gov – – WHO ICTRP – CENTRAL: Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials – etc. 119/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  12. 12. Choice in hand! Google Scholar Good for scoping general grey lit search Not reliable results during time Only first 1000 hits could be viewed 129/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  13. 13. What to do now? Source: Alex E. Proimos - 139/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  14. 14. Why do you need to know about this? • If you do any kind of research you have to do a review: – Literature reviews (for research, thesis, or project) – Scoping review (to know the scope of a topic) – Systematic review (to build a reliable body of knowledge through research synthesis in a specific topic) • Preventing “publication bias”: “Published trials showed an overall greater treatment effect than grey trials” and “published trials had more participants on average” (Hopewell 2007) • Time to search grey: “The median time spent searching all resources was 471 minutes, and of those a median of 85 minutes were spent searching grey literature” (Saleh 2014) – In topics with very little literature, go ‘grey’! 149/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  15. 15. When you are doing any kind of review… • List the potential sources for grey literature • Ask experts about other possible grey literature • Search for grey literature and use them • Cite them as a usual reference in your work • Check the permission to use if you use a table, picture, figure or major part of a work 159/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  16. 16. *Document your search for grey literature* • Your search methods are part of your research methods so they should be reproducible – Where did you search? – When did you search? – What were the search strategies? – How many results did you find? – Who did the search? • If you provide this info, anyone can re- run/repeat your search! 169/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  17. 17. Websites to visit! • • • • • • • • 179/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  18. 18. If you are interested in this topic: • Finding the Hard to Finds: Searching for Grey Literature • Grey lit 101: Shining a White Light on Grey Literature • Grey lit 102: Advanced Search Strategies for Grey Literature • Grey lit 103 Standing Out in a Sea of Grey Literature A Producer’s (Librarian) Perspective • Finding Grey Literature Evidence and Assessing for Outcome and Analysis Reporting Biases When Comparing Medical Interventions: AHRQ and the Effective Health Care Program • Grey Matters: a practical search tool for evidence-based medicine 189/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh
  19. 19. Thanks for Your Attention and Ask a Question, Please! • Feel free to contact me at – farhadshokraneh [at] – farhad.shokraneh [at] 199/9/2015 Farhad Shokraneh