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University of Newcastle Library guides

Social Sciences Grey Literature: What is Grey Literature?

A guide to grey literature for Social Sciences

What is grey literature?

Grey literature is “information produced  by all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing”. (GreyNet)

Grey literature includes:

Theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, newsletters, reports, government documents, informal communications, translations, census data, research reports, technical reports, standards, patents, videos, clinical trials and practice guidelines, eprints, preprints, wiki articles, emails, blogs, listserv archives, repository content.

Grey literature may present a number of challenges for the researcher:

  •     Difficult to find
  •     Many documents are not web published
  •     Older documents may not be archived
  •     Short print runs may lead to lack of availability
  •     Format and citation information may be inconsistent
  •     Volume of material may be over-whelming and consuming
  •     Quality of evidence varies.

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