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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 that is produced outside of commercial publishing channels. This includes print and electronic material produced by organisations such as governments, educational institutions, business and industry associations.

Examples of grey literature include:

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.

Here are some reasons why you should consider including grey literature in your search. 

  • It is often the most up-to-date information, as it does not need to go through commercial publication processes.
  • It is the best source to find information on policies, programs, reports, guidelines, statistics, patents, standards etc.
  • It may be the only source of information, depending on the topic. 

Although grey literature is not usually peer reviewed, it may still be a good and reliable source of information for the review topic.

It is necessary to evaluate everything you find.

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