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HIST 373W American Health Politics and Policy

Finding Policy



Finding Grey Literature

Public health policy can range from formal legislation to community outreach efforts. There is no single place to locate all policy. Instead, you’ll need to implement a search in numerous organizations (governmental and nongovernmental) to locate the information you need.

For example, to research public health policy surrounding food-related illnesses, you may need to locate information from the federal or state governments (federal laws like the Food Safety Modernization Act or NYS regulations on food service establishments), federal and state government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the NY State Department of Health, and nongovernmental agencies like the Center for Food Safety (national level), New York State Association for Food Protection (state level), and Rochester Food Policy Council (local level).Hierarchy of grey literature denoting the varying degrees of information control and known expertise of the author.

What is grey literature?

  • Information published by entities whose main purpose is NOT publishing​. Watch this video for more info.

Why is this important for public health?

  • A large amount of public health information is published as grey literature. This includes government data, information produced by foundations, NGOs, companies, schools etc.


Image source: Kamei, F. et al., (2020) under a CC BY 4.0 license

Quickly find grey literature by using a site search in Google   

  • Examples 1 & 2 find information on formaldehyde on all .org websites or only on ATSDR

domain search

site search



  • Examples 3 & 4: Finds information regarding mindfulness on all college/university websites or only in the Rochester City School District

minfulness site search


   mindfulness rscd site search


  • Examples 5 & 6: Finds information on cannabidiol policy on all .gov websites or specifically in New York State governmental websites.


Health Statistics