Western Libraries

Grey Literature

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Script of Video:

What do you think of when you hear the word grey? fuzzy? undefined?
What about ‘grey literature’?
The ‘black and white’ literature that you get when searching most databases is produced by commercial publishers.
In contrast, grey literature is produced by entities whose main task is NOT publishing.
The official definition of GL, brought to you by the International Conference on Grey Literature...

“Information produced on all levels of government, academia, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body”

So, if grey lit is not produced by commercial publishing who produces GL?
Many organizations produce GL, industry, think tanks, Government departments, as well as scholarly societies and associations can all be producers of grey literature.

How about Academia? How about you?
Are you writing a thesis? Do you blog?
There are many kinds of grey literature. These range from the more scholarly to more community based kinds of GL. Theses and dissertations, conference proceedings and research reports … are scholarly kinds of GL.Government websites, technical reports, white papers … are government and industry based GL

Newsletters, Emails, blogs and other social networking sites are community based kinds of GL.

In addition, there may also be grey literature that is specifically relevant to your discipline. So for example:
Practice Guidelines are highly relevant to nursing and medicine, working papers are used in Social Sciences (particularly Economics) and patents are important to engineering. Data is also a kind of grey literature. Think about census, geospatial and economic data.

Grey literature can help supplement your research. GL can sometimes be more current than literature published in scholarly journals and it can offer a fuller picture of the information available on a particular topic.

So how do you search for grey literature?

Searching for GL can be an iterative process. There are numerous resources available to assist you. For example, Scopus, Google, Open Grey Repository, and Web of Science can point to different kinds of grey literature.

If you need help finding grey literature, come talk to your librarian.