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Systematic Reviews

Learn about conducting systematic reviews

Grey Literature

Searching for grey literature can help you locate evidence-based materials that may not be published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Grey literature includes:

  • Dissertation and theses
  • Documents or reports from agencies (government or non-government)
  • Conference proceedings

For more information, see Chapter 4.3.2 Ongoing studies and unpublished data sources in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Intervention.

Locating Conference Proceedings & Reports in Databases

Databases may also include conference proceedings and reports. The example below shows how to limit results by conference proceedings in PsycINFO. Look for this limiter in other databases under the Article or Document Type filter. 

Locating Grey Literature


Searching for trial reports in databases may not retrieve all relevant available studies. Handsearching is the task of searching through medical journals or conference abstract books for reports of controlled trials which are not indexed in the major electronic databases like MEDLINE and Embase.

For complete identification of reports of trials, electronic searching may need to be supplemented by conducting page by page searches of a variety of sources including journals and supplements, conference proceedings and abstracts, and correspondence.

Professional Organizations & Conferences

You may also want to look up reports and articles from public health associations, as well as any conference proceedings from public health conference websites.

Systematic Searches #10: Finding Gray Literature: Yale School of Medicine (5.33)