Searching grey literature: a single strategy to search multiple sources
In this short video we take a brief look at searching grey literature. Grey literature is the term given to unpublished documents such as dissertations, technical reports, conference abstracts, newsletters, presentations and so on. Even though they may not have been formally published, these documents can still contain vital information.
So how can we search grey literature sources in a systematic manner? One way is simply to manually search each source using its own proprietary interface. Imagine we have a search query investigating the effects of the global pandemic on frontline healthcare professionals, and we have tabs open for the various databases that we might want to search. As you might suspect, this process is inefficient and error prone, as we have to manually interrogate each interface and copy and paste our query string each time, and not every search interface behaves in the way we expect.
So is there a more efficient way? With 2Dsearch, it turns out there is, using a technique known as ‘x-ray’ searching . Let’s start by opening our search strategy on the canvas.
In this example, our search retrieves documents on the effects of the global pandemic on frontline healthcare professionals. At the moment we are querying Bing, but this technique also works with Google or any other web search engine.
To search grey literature sources we simply type the name of the source we want to search, for example nhs.uk, then add a with the site operator, like so.
This tells Bing to retrieve only documents from nhs.uk. Since both Bing and Google maintain very comprehensive indexes, this technique is remarkably effective. And if we look at the results, we can see that they are indeed from the source we specified.
At this point you might be thinking we could have done this manually by simply editing the query string. And you’d be right, but the point is that most people searching grey literature need to consult multiple sources. And that’s where the visual approach becomes far more efficient, since we can use a single search strategy to search multiple sources. What’s more, we can create and save our own collection of grey literature filters and import them whenever we need them. To apply them to a particular search, we simply enable or disable them.
Creating your own grey literature filters is easy. But if you want a head start, you can use the ones that are provided whenever you create a free account with 2Dsearch. To learn more, simply head on over to 2Dsearch.com .
Originally published at https://www.2dsearch.com on January 18, 2022.