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Grey literature

Find literature that is not available in traditional channels of publishing and distribution.

Finding grey literature on the Internet

Web search engines can be used as tools to search for literature not published within the main channels of literature indexing or supply. The best value in web searching is to search within known sites or to use a search engine's advanced search features.

Searching Google for grey literature

Google has a number of advanced search features which can make a search much more targeted. These features include searching by:

  • field
  • file type
  • domain

Field searching:

  • to search for a word in the title of your search results use the intitle: command followed by the search term. 
  • for example -    intitle:rhabdomyolysis

File type searching:

  • Google has the option to search for results of a given file type, the most commonly used is PDF
  • the command is the term filetype followed by a colon filetype:  For example - rainfall data filetype:pdf 
  • includes -
    • Word Documents .doc 
    • PowerPoint files .ppt,
    • Excel Files .xls
    • PDFs .pdf

Domain searching:

  • allows a search across a website using Google
  • will only work for websites in which Google can send spiders through to capture data
  • the operator to search a site is site:
  • is an easy way to search for sites with a government or educational institution extension. The default for a government site is to use .gov and this defaults to a US government site, to make it an Australian government site add au, e.g. site:.gov.au
  • allows you to search a website. Just add the site’s URL after the site search operator. For example - site:fao.org Add any search terms to this and you will search for the topic only in these web sites

All of these operators can be mixed together as a search. For example - food security site:fao.org filetype:pdf