Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

UHBW Library and Information Services: Systematic Reviews and Grey Literature

Library website for UHBW

Introduction to Systematic Reviews

What is a systematic review?

"This type of review is a specific methodology that aims to comprehensively identify all relevant studies on a specific topic, and to select appropriate studies based on explicit criteria. In addition, the methodological quality of the studies included is assessed by on the basis of explicit criteria, such as the presence of a pre-test or a control group. In contrast to a conventional literature review, a systematic review (SR) is transparent, verifiable, and reproducible, and, as a result, the likelihood of bias is considerably smaller. Many SRs also include a meta-analysis, in which statistical analysis techniques are used to combine the results of individual studies to arrive at a more accurate estimate of effects ." 


What is Grey Literature

“There are many definitions of grey literature, but it is usually taken to mean literature that is not formally published in sources such as books or journal articles.”  Cochrane Handbook v.5 - Part 2, section 

Systematic Reviews – UHBW Policy on KLS Support

Providing literature search support is an integral part of our service; however providing support in designing, constructing and developing a search strategy for systematic review is a lengthy process. With this in mind we have put in place the following guidelines in relation to systematic review support. The following outlines the Knowledge and Library Service’s policy for collaboration with staff on reviews, such as systematic reviews, narrative reviews, realist reviews and other types of reviews.

Please read the full guidelines here: Systematic Reviews – UHBW Policy on KLS Support

Systematic Review Guidelines

PRISMA Statement

The PRISMA 2020 Statement was published in 2021. It consists of a checklist and a flow diagram, and is intended to be accompanied by the PRISMA 2020 Explanation and Elaboration document.

In order to encourage dissemination of the PRISMA 2020 Statement, it has been published in several journals.

Registering Your Systematic Review

Before registering a new systematic review, check PROSPERO to see whether a similar review already exists. 

"Prospective registration of systematic reviews promotes transparency, helps reduce potential for bias and serves to avoid unintended duplication of reviews. Registration offers advantages to many stakeholders in return for modest additional effort from the researchers registering their reviews." 

Stewart, L., Moher, D. & Shekelle, P. Why prospective registration of systematic reviews makes sense. Syst Rev 1, 7 (2012).

Examples of Grey Literature

This includes:

Practice Guidelines
Newsletters and Bulletins
Research and Technical Reports
Theses and Dissertations
Government Documents
Standards and Patents
Clinical Trials on ongoing research registries
Blogs, emails, List-serves
Conference Proceedings

Statistics and Statistical Publications

Grey Literature on Twitter

GreyNet is dedicated to research, publication, open access, and education in the field of grey literature

Grey Literature

Powerpoint presentation on Grey Literature

A short introduction to the use of grey literature in evidence-based medicine.







Click the image to see the presentation.

Where to find Grey Literature

Web Search Tools

TRIP Database A clinical search engine designed to allow users to quickly and easily find and use high-quality research evidence to support their practice and/or care.

CASH A collaborative project provided by a network of librarians and knowledge managers in the health sector .

MEDNAR (USA)  Free, medically-focused deep web search engine.

Institutional Repositories
CORE  Aggregates open access research outputs from repositories and journals worldwide
OpenDoar  Direcory of academic open access repositories
Oaister -  From OCLC, uses Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.
BASE -  Provides access to more than 100 million documents from more than 5,000 sources.

Formal Bibliographic Databases
NICE Evidence Search
PROQUEST - PILOTS Published International Literature On Traumatic Stress
Cochrane Library
HMIC - library catalogues of the King's Fund and DH. Lots of UK Health Policy,Circulars, Think Tank material etc.

Library Catalogues
COPAC Brings together the catalogues of c.90 major UK and Irish libraries
British Library

eTHOS - UK’s national thesis service which aims to maximise the visibility and availability of the UK’s
doctoral research theses.
Global ETD Search - Search the 4,872,302 electronic theses and dissertations contained in
the NDLTD archive:
OATD - Open Access Theses and Dissertations Advanced research and scholarship. Theses and dissertations,
free to find, free to use.
DART-Europe E-theses Portal - A partnership of research libraries and library
consortia working together to improve access to European research theses.

Websites & Bulletins
King's Fund The King's Fund's Information and Knowledge Services provide a unique and free source of information on health and social care policy and management
Nuffield Trust Provides evidence-based research and policy analysis.
The Health Foundation are available to download. Hard copies of many publications
can also be ordered free of charge.
NESTA Original research and influential policy work in the field of innovation