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Grey Literature

Learn what Grey Literature is, how to evaluate it, what formats it takes, how to find it, and how to incorporate it in your research.

Grey Literature comes in many shapes and sizes, and from wide spectrum of sources. It can be incredibly overwhelming to try to figure out exactly what type of grey literature will be useful for your research, especially if you do not know the terminology for these types of literature. The below table and example will hopefully give you a general idea of what type of grey literature you are looking for.

Types of Grey Literature

Types of Grey Literature Examples of Publications Examples of Common Sources
Academic: Not all academic resources are scholarly and peer-reviewed! That means that lots of information academics put out is Grey Literature (This guide is an example of academic grey literature).
  • Theses
  • Conference Papers
  • Dissertations
  • Research Reports 
  • Articles that have not been peer-reviewed yet (pre-prints) or will not be peer-review (White papers) 
  • Course materials
  • Research Posters
  • Surveys and Questionnaires used to collect data
  • Bibliographies
  • Lectures
  • Academic Websites and Blogs
  • University Research Repositories
  • Conference Proceedings
Primary Sources: Resources that reflect the views, memories or immediate responses to events primary sources. 
  • News Articles
  • Personal Journals
  • Social Media
  • Photos
  • Speeches
  • Interviews
  • Legislation
  • Newspapers
  • Archives
  • Blogs
Non-Academic Research and Reports: These are documents that are created by non-academic organizations that attempt to  research topics outside of academia. Think Tanks, Policy Institutes, Research Centers, and Governments fall into this category.  
  • Policy Briefs
  • Data sets
  • Maps
  • Reports on specific programs, areas or topics
  • Statistics
  • Fact sheets
  • Government Agency Publications
  • Non-Profit Organizations
Health: These documents relate to the fields of health and medicine and are designed to be used by experts in the field.
  • Clinical Trials
  • Practice Guidelines
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Health Professional Associations
Technical: Technical grey literature covers literature that conveys highly specialized information on the interworkings of different proceedures, inventions, technologies, enginneering advancements, scientific discoveries and more. These are different from non-academic research because the intended audience are fellow technical experts and are more STEM or scientific in nature.
  • Technical reports
  • Trade magazines
  • Scientific reports
  • Maps
  • Standards
  • Patents
  • Toolkits
  • Guidelines
  • Associations, unions, and other organizations representing specific fields
  • Government Agencies that set standards and regulations.
  • Academic organizations focused on the specific field
Industry and Commercial: These items of grey literature are created to inform businesses, consumers, and industry professionals about products, markets, and industry trends.
  • Business documents
  • Catalogues
  • Guidelines
  • Repair manuals
  • Trade magazines
  • Individual Busienesses
  • Chamber of Commerce and other busieness associations
Program or Public Information: These items are made to report or inform outside audiences of an organization's activities. This can be made by businesses, think tanks, government agencies, academic organizations and more. This is different from primary sources as these items are updates on indivdual organizations, not events or broader topic. They differ from technical or non-academic research reports as they are not research-based, and are made for general consumption.
  • Bulletins
  • Newsletters
  • Brochures/pamphlet

  • Directories

  • Posters and

  • advertisments

  • Press releases

  • Annual reports

  • Fact sheets

  • Flyers

  • Individual organization's websites
  • Government information like Public health flyers or National Park brochures