Grey literature refers to both published and unpublished research, produced by government, academia, business and industry, that is not controlled by commercial publishers. Some examples of grey literature include:
Searching for grey literature is not always easy and can be time consuming. Simple searches are often more fruitful than the rigorous strategies used for database searching. Try searching on your core concepts rather than using long strings of search terms.
Websites of relevant organisations
Search or browse the websites of key organisations in your research area. These may include: government agencies, academic or research institutes, professional associations, and advocacy groups. Depending on the focus of your topic, the following sources may be useful:
As well as journal articles, many library databases also index other types of literature including conference papers, reports, theses and government documents.
Most library databases provide the facility to limit by publication or document type, which will allow you to narrow your search to grey literature sources.
Grey literature databases, library catalogues, and repositories
Online search engines
Search engines such as Google are also useful when searching for grey literature. Note that:
When you perform a Google search you can also limit to particular domains or by file type:
Grey literature is usually not subject to the same peer-review process or quality checks as books, journals and other commercially published literature. It is important to critically evaluate grey literature to ensure it is of a suitable quality to include in your assignment.
The AACODS checklist is a useful tool for evaluating grey literature:
Our guide to evaluating online information should also assist you to appraise any information you may find: