Grey literature

This comprises all literature that is not accessible through conventional channels, because it is not published publicly, or only in a very limited way. It could include technical or research reports, progress reports, dissertations, conference papers, committee proceedings, internal memoranda, newsletters and many other types. There is no organized repository for acupuncture grey literature.

Conference proceedings make up a large and valuable resource. They often signpost research in early or pre-publication stages but also research that will never be published. It is less constrained and wider in scope than published data, but also less critically scrutinized and not formally peer reviewed. Some is available in journal supplements (for example the proceedings of the Society for Acupuncture Research conference are published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine), some is available on conference websites (e.g. ARRC’s symposia) and some by subscription, but much can be accessed only in person(e.g. proceedings of the scientific meeting at the Rothenburg TCM Kongress

Various useful articles may be found in the newsletters of acupuncture professional bodies, e.g. the BAcC’s ‘The Acupuncturist’.

Miscellaneous reports may surface only through personal contacts or trawling through relevant websites.

System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe (SIGLE) contains 700,000 references accumulated since 1980; unfortunately only 25 of these mention acupuncture (accessed September 2013).

Coad et al (2006) provide a simple guide for nurses on searching the grey literature