Grey literature: index and alternative sources and resources

“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 libraries and institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers; i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body.”

The Twelfth International Conference on Grey Literature: Prague 2010

This list has been compiled to help librarians and researchers, particularly in Public Health, to find resources that fall into this category and flag up alternative sources for queries not easily resolved by the clinical/medical database model.

To navigate this page, click on the subject heading boxes to view the content within. Text that is underlined and blue is a hyperlink to a website or resource.

BASE  Bielefeld Academy Search Engine

Bielefeld University Library tool.100 million documents – open access repository.

British Library  Copyright Library. Main catalogue for millions of records for books, journals, newspapers, printed maps, scores, electronic resources, sound archive items etc. in the Library's collections.

CADTH is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for providing health care decision-makers with objective evidence to help make informed decisions about the optimal use of health technologies, including:

  • drugs
  • diagnostic tests
  • medical, dental, and surgical devices and procedures.

In addition to evidence, they also provide advice, recommendations, and tools.

Jisc Library Hub Discover Union catalogue of the major research libraries in the UK (including British Library and other copyright libraries).
CORE Seamless access to millions of open access research papers
EThOS  British Library - 400,000 doctoral theses.
The Health Foundation The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.
International Health Technology Assessment Database The International Health Technology Assessment Database has been relaunched, and provides free access to bibliographic information about ongoing and published health technology assessments commissioned or undertaken by HTA organisations from around the world.
King’s Fund Independent views on health and social care policy and practice. Content includes reports, blogs, evidence and consultations.
The King’s Fund Library database, can be used to search for health and social care policy literature.
MedNar Mednar is a free, medically-focused deep web search engine that uses Explorit Everywhere, an advanced search technology by Deep Web Technologies. As an alternative to Google, Mednar accelerates your research with a search of authoritative public and deep web resources, returning the most relevant results to one easily navigable page
National Academies Press
The National Academies Press has more than 10,000 books downloadable for free (registration required), produced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
NDLTD Theses and Dissertations

4,558,431 electronic theses and dissertations contained in the NDLTD archive.

Nuffield Trust The Nuffield Trust is an independent health charity. Their aim is to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis, and informing/generating debate.
OAIster OAIster is a union catalogue of millions of records that represent open access resources, built through harvesting from collections worldwide. Includes more than 50 million records that represent digital resources from more than 2,000 contributors.
OATD Open Access Theses and Dissertations. Advanced research and scholarship. Theses and dissertations, free to find, free to use.
OECD iLibrary
OECD iLibrary is the online library of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) featuring its books, papers and statistics and is the knowledge base of OECD's analysis and data.
OPEN DOAR  OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories.
OpenGrey Archived - discontinued from December 1, 2020
OpenGrey covered Science, Technology, Biomedical Science, Economics, Social Science and Humanities in Europe.Includes:Open access to 700.000 bibliographical references, with the facility to export records and locate the documents.Technical or research reports, doctoral dissertations, some conference papers, some official publications, and other types of grey literature.The site included preprints from the GL conferences (GreyNet International) in full text.
PLOS Public Library of Science (PLOS)

A non-profit Open Access publisher, innovator and advocacy organization with a mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.

Policy Commons

Policy Commons selects high quality, data-rich reports from more than 30,000 policy organizations, including small organizations missed by others. Millions of reports from think tanks, agencies, governments and cities. Registration required.


RAND produce reports on a range of public health topics, freely available as eBooks. You can search over 20,000 RAND publications dating back to 1946, and filter by theme.

Social Care Online

Social Care Institute for Excellence

From January 2023 Social Care Online will no longer be updated, the Social Care Online site will be available until December 2023.

The UK’s largest database of information and research on all aspects of social care and social work.

TRIP Database Trip is a clinical search engine, but as well as research evidence, it also provides a gateway to other content types, including images, videos, patient information leaflets, educational courses and news.The Pro version is now funded for NHS and Public Health staff. For Local Authority PH teams please activate IP address linkage by emailing [email protected]


UK Health Security Agency

Guidance and regulation, Research and Statistics, Policy papers and consultations. 

View Statistics at UKHSA to see published statistics related to planning, preventing and responding to external health threats.


Office for Health Improvement & Disparities

Guidance and regulation, Research and Statistics, Policy papers and consultations. 

View Statistics at OHID to see published statistics on public health topics.

APHO – historical data

Public Health Observatories

The Network of Public Health Observatories is now part of Public Health England.

Public Health Observatories (PHOs) produced information, data and intelligence on people's health and health care for practitioners, commissioners, policymakers and the wider community. Their expertise lay in turning information and data into meaningful health intelligence.


The Office for National Statistics

The UK's largest independent producer of official statistics and statistical bulletins, and the recognised national statistical institute of the UK.


The University of Auckland Library

This is a great starting point for locating official statistical sources by country, region or subject. All of the content in the database is assessed by humans for quality and authority and is freely available.


Health statistics

This includes both empirical data and estimates related to health, such as mortality, morbidity, risk factors, health service coverage, and health systems.


25 Ministerial Departments

Departments, agencies and public bodies


Official archive and publisher for the UK government and guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents. This is a non-ministerial government department which is a cultural, academic and heritage institution with expert advisers in information and records management.


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Pathways, guidance, standards and indicators, evidence and more.

Top Tip

Here are some examples of commands you can use to focus searches:

site:  Focuses your search to within a particular website, e.g. for government websites or for UK academic websites. You can also use -site: to exclude individual sites.

filetype:  Retrieves results that match the filetype you have specified, e.g. filetype:pdf or filetype:ppt.

BING Although more ‘shopping’ than research, Bing is developing and is reputedly better than Google for Maps* (ordnance survey section); corporate sites, for social science, sexual health, anthropology, psychology searches, and for going deeper into a site. Advanced search is the best option.*For detailed directions try Open Street Map
DuckDuckGo The search engine that doesn't track you. Allegedly a superior search experience with smarter answers, less clutter and real privacy.
Dogpile A metasearch engine for information on the World Wide Web that fetches results from GoogleYahoo! and Yandex, and includes results from several other popular search engines, including those from audio and video content providers.
Carrotsearch Recommended for its clustering of results and also the visualisations of terms and concepts via the circles and “foam tree”. The Web Search uses for the general searches and there is also a PubMed option. (Possibly a subscription service for the most benefit, though there is some open-source access). Whilst no longer freely available, you can sign up for a free trial.

Full Fact – the UK's independent fact checking charity

Information on Health, Law, Crime, Economy, Europe, Immigration and Education.


On SlideShare you can view and upload:

  • Presentations
  • Infographics
  • Documents
  • Videos

BBC Archive News

Information for external enquirers who want to use content in the BBC archives for research, educational or other commercial or non-commercial purposes.


Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more (US)

Advanced X Search

The best way to search X (previously Twitter) - use the Advanced Search or click “More Options” on the results page. There is a detailed description of the commands and how they can be used here.

(Check here for supported browsers)


Online photo management and sharing application / creative commons images

Morgue File

A useful resource for creative commons photos


Reverse image search. Allows you to search the web, using an image - find matches of that image elsewhere online and traces copyright owner. Also includes MulticolorEngine to extract colour palettes from an image or a set of images.