A reference work is a collection of general facts within a field. These can be used to find standards, measurements, or the general background of a theory. Many types of reference works exist, but these three are ones commonly used in nursing.
Gray literature (also known as grey literature) generally consists of publications that are not distributed through scholarly or commercial channels such as professional journals. Types of gray literature include trade reports, government publications, conference proceedings, and company research. Some definitions of gray literature include publications such as blogs, statistical reports, white papers, and working papers.
The purpose of gray literature varies and depends on the setting in which it is published and distributed. In corporations or organizations, gray literature may be used to distribute new information, communicate for internal purposes, or to document activities. One example is Healthy Aging Begins at Home, a grant-funded task force report by Bipartisan Policy Center. For academic contexts, gray literature may be a forum for presenting ideas that may be emerging or do not yet have wide interest.
Gray literature may be considered in any literature review in order have a broader view of what is discussed and researched on a particular topic.
The following document types are often retrieved in a database search. Although they are not articles that directly communicate original research, their role is to provide an arena for commentary and discussion. Select the links for examples:
Scholarly or professional literature is literally a world of sources and publications! The literature consists of many types of publications, and can also be in various formats such as print, online, or multimedia. It is commonly found in an index and database search, and its information is used to communicate and inform nursing research and practice.
The FAU College of Nursing emphasizes using the following types of literature for their assignments: primary or original research, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. However, students will frequently encounter other sources during their literature search. See below for examples and explanations.
Professional literature falls under 3 categories:
|Definitions||Attributes||Types of Publications||Examples|
|Primary Literature||Direct documentation or interaction with an event or occurrence.||
Results of original research;
||Chow, S.K.Y, Lam, K., Lie, S., Mak, K., Mong, K., So, C., & Yuen, W. (2018). Do demographic factors and a health-promoting lifestyle influence the self-rated health of college nursing students? BMC Nursing, 17(50). DOI: 10.1186/s12912-018-0322-y|
|Secondary Literature||Based on an indirect interaction with an event or information.||Summarizes, uses, discusses, or comments on information from primary sources.||
||Frederiksen, L., & Phelps, S. (2017). Literature reviews for education and nursing graduate students. Vancouver, WA: Washington State University. Retrieved from https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/literature-reviews-for-education-and-nursing-graduate-students|
|Tertiary Literature||Also indirect interaction with an event or information.||Utilizes and distils information from both primary and secondary sources.||
||University of California at Santa Cruz (2018). Student Health Center manuals. Retrieved from http://shs-manual.ucsc.edu/document/nursing-manual|