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International Oncology Subject Guide: Grey Literature

Grey Literature

What is grey literature?

"Grey literature stands for manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by library holdings or institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers, i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body (Prague definition)." These include unpublished clinical trials, conference proceedings, theses, government documents, white papers and many more.

Role of grey literature in evidence-based practice:

There is ongoing interest in including grey literature in systematic reviews. In the last few decades, systematic literature reviews in health sciences have demonstrated the value of grey literature in terms of avoiding publication bias, especially in public administrations, public policy and industrial research laboratories that publish their reports often for internal use. Grey literature can be more current and disseminate results more quickly, for instance, including conference proceedings in the review. Escoffert at el. conducted a grey literature review of special events for promoting cancer screenings and concluded that "combining a grey literature review with a systematic literature review did contribute to a greater understanding of special events for promoting cancer screening by enhancing both the breadth of events found and depth of knowledge of these events. Similar to another review of grey literature for medical interventions, we found more special events promoting cancer screening from conference abstracts."  

Evaluate Grey Literature:

The AACODS checklist was developed by Jess Tyndall at Flinders at University Medical Library in Australia in 2010 to evaluate the quality of grey literature. This checklist consists of six criteria Authority, Accuracy, Coverage, Objectivity, Date, and Significance.

  • Authority: Who is responsible for the intellectual content?
  • Accuracy: Is the content supported by documented references and authoritative/credible sources?
  • Coverage: Does the content coverage transparent, for instance, population group, types of publication, source of data, etc.?  
  • Objectivity: Is the resource/document contain any bias or conflict of interest? 
  • Date: Does the resource/document include date(s) that are related to the content?
  • Significance: What is the value and impact of the content in the context of the relevant research discipline?

Grey literature repositories/databases:

Grey Literature: Resources

Oncology conference/meeting abstracts: 

Practice Guidelines:



Dissertations and Theses sources:

Clinical Trials Databases: