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Grey literature

What is grey literature?

Grey literature is any information that is not produced by commercial publishers.

This resource guide describes the different types of grey literature, suggests a number of search tools and resources you can use to find this sort of information and gives some tips on how to search effectively for this hard-to-find material.

Grey literature includes these types of publication:

  • research reports
  • working papers
  • conference proceedings
  • theses
  • preprints
  • white papers
  • blogs
  • podcasts
  • social media posts
  • guidelines
  • policy documents
  • reports produced by government departments, academics, business and industry.

Grey literature can help you to:

  • find current information on emerging areas of research – before research is formally published in a journal or book, authors might share information about new and emerging research in blogs, social media, preprints, conference proceedings or in their thesis
  • hear from a more diverse range of voices – not everyone has the opportunity to publish with mainstream commercial publishers
  • identify research that has null or negative results – negative results are less likely to be published in journals
  • find information published by government agencies, policy organisations, think tanks, non-governmental organisations, industry, trade or regulatory or professional bodies.

However, grey literature is not peer reviewed, so the quality of information may be variable. You need to use your judgement and critical thinking skills to assess the information, ideas and arguments you find.