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Systematic Reviews

Specialised advice for planning, researching and writing Systematic Reviews.

Grey Literature

Grey literature is any type of literature that is not produced by commercial publishing.

Grey literature includes (but is not limited to):

  • theses and dissertations,
  • conference papers,
  • research data,
  • clinical trials,
  • diaries and letters,
  • company records
  • government and NGOs' documents, reports and working papers
  • eprints or pre-prints
  • social media posts
  • ephemera - e.g. brochures, pamphlets
  • patents and IP.

Whether grey literature should be included can depend on the level of the study, nature of the topic, how comprehensive the topic is and time available to complete the review.

  • Systematic reviews completed for honours degrees should usually concentrate on using published sources.
  • Reviews completed for PhDs and further research should consider whether grey literature should be used.
  • Some topics should include grey literature, especially when the topic may include aspects of policy or practice.
  • Another type of grey literature that may also be included in medical research are registered clinical trials.

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