Grey literature refers to both published and unpublished research, produced by government, academia, business and industry, that is not controlled by commercial publishers.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:
Government reports Conference proceedings Newsletters
Statistical publications Theses Policy documents
Legal documents Trial registers Working papers
Datasets Research reports Fact sheets
Bulletins Brochures Surveys and interviews
Grey literature is an important source of information as:
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.
If using a search engine such as Google and Google Scholar, use the Advanced Search option. This will allow you to limit your search by date (e.g. last 5/10 years), language (e.g. English), region (e.g. Australia) etc. thus avoiding the retrieval of large numbers of results.
When you perform a Google search you can also limit to particular domains or by file type:
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, private companies, 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
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.