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Let's look at a clinical case scenario to demonstrate how to plan and perform a search for grey literature:

The nursing team on a surgical ward is reviewing the latest clinical guidelines and interventions for reducing the risk of postoperative delirium in elderly patients. 


Step 1. Build a simple search by identifying key search terms

postoperative delirium or post-operative


elderly or aged or senior


prevention or reduction

Step 2. Be efficient and target the types of resources that will be most relevant for your query before you start searching
  • recent clinical guidelines
  • standards
  • new evidence-based interventions / clinical trials

These resources would cover current best practice, and complement the traditional scholarly literature required for this research question

Step 3. Use the 'Where to Search' tab above to get quick access to search platforms and databases targeted to your search strategy
  • Guidelines       - TRIP medical database
  • Government reports  - ACSQHC
  • Clinical trials    - ANZCTR
Step 4. Evaluate the grey literature resources Use a reliable checklist such as AACODS  

Grey literature consists of a wide variety of publication types, from conference presentations to data sets. Be aware that this variety has implications when you are referencing grey literature, as each type of publication (or 'work') is referenced in a slightly different way.

  • Visit our Referencing Guide for more information on referencing styles such as APA 7, and reference management systems including EndNote and Mendeley. 
  • See the APA Style blog for example references of a variety of grey literature and other publication types, including clinical practice sources.

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