North-West University Libraries

Grey Literature

Grey literature is informally published written material (such as reports) that may be difficult to trace via conventional channels such as published journals and monographs because it is not published commercially or is not widely accessible. It may nonetheless be an important source of information for researchers, because it tends to be original and recent. Examples of grey literature include patents, technical reports from government agencies or scientific research groups, working papers from research groups or committees, white papers, and preprints. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

What does grey literature include?

  • Blogs, wikis, blikis
  • Census, economic and other data sources
  • Clinical guidelines
  • Clinical trials
  • Conference proceedings and abstracts
  • Databases of ongoing research
  • Digital libraries
  • Electronic networks
  • Emails
  • E-prints
  • Factsheets
  • Government Documents
  • Images
  • Informal communication (telephone calls, meetings)
  • Listserv archives
  • Maps
  • Meta-searching, federated searching, portals
  • Newsletters
  • Policy statements and issues papers
  • Pre-prints and post-prints of articles
  • Research reports (completed and uncompleted)
  • Reports  
  • Spatial data (ie. Google Earth)
  • Technical reports
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Translations
  • Videos
  • Web 2.0 communication

Differences between grey and published literature

Grey literature

(From Grey literature / Liz Hunwick, Basildon Healthcare Library)

Sources of grey literature