Grey Literature Overview

Grey literature refers to research material that is either formally unpublished or is not commercially available. These include traditional and technology-based grey literature.

Traditional grey literature

  • Theses and dissertations
  • Census, economic and other data sources
  • Databases of ongoing research
  • Statistics and other data sources
  • Conference proceedings and abstracts
  • Newsletters
  • Research reports
  • Technical specifications, standards and guidelines
  • Annual reports
  • Informal communication (i.e. telephone conversations, meetings, etc.)
  • Translation and more...

Technology-based grey literature

  • e-prints, preprints
  • electronic networked communication
  • blogs, podcasts and videorecordings
  • institutional repositories
  • listserv archives
  • digital libraries
  • spatial data (i.e. Google Earth)
  • meta-searching, federated searching portals
  • wikis, Twitter, other social media

Grey literature is often produced by government agencies, universities, businesses and corporations, research centres, associations and societies, professional organisations, political parties, libraries, museum, archives and freelance individuals. It is considered as an important source of information. 


Giustini, Dean. 2012. Finding the hard to finds: searching for grey literature. University of British Columbia. Retrieved from;on 25 August 2015


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