Finding “hard to find” literature on hard to find groups: A novel technique to search grey literature on refugees and asylum seekers

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There is a lack of information on how to execute effective searches of the grey literature on refugee and asylum seeker groups for inclusion in systematic reviews. High-quality government reports and other grey literature relevant to refugees may not always be identified in conventional literature searches. During the process of conducting a recent systematic review, we developed a novel strategy for systematically searching international refugee and asylum seeker-related grey literature. The approach targets governmental health departments and statistical agencies, who have considerable access to refugee and asylum seeker populations for research purposes but typically do not publish findings in academic forums. Compared to a conventional grey literature search strategy, our novel technique yielded an eightfold increase in relevant high-quality grey sources that provided valuable content in informing our review. Incorporating a search of the grey literature into systematic reviews of refugee and asylum seeker research is essential to providing a more complete view of the evidence. Our novel strategy offers a practical and feasible method of conducting systematic grey literature searches that may be adaptable to a range of research questions, contexts, and resource constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1580
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • asylum seeker
  • grey literature
  • hidden population
  • refugee
  • systematic review

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