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0 REUSABLE CONTENT (common elements): Grey literature

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What is grey literature?

Grey literature is information which has been published informally or non-commercially, or remains unpublished. It can appear in many forms, including government reports, statistics, patents, conference papers and even non-written resources such as posters and infographics.

Grey literature is not usually peer-reviewed, but may still be good, reliable information.

See the PHCRIS Introduction to Accessing the Grey Literature and the HLWiki page on grey literature for a more detailed overview. They are aimed at medical researchers but are relevant to anyone searching for grey literature.

Finding grey literature

Grey literature can be found  through a number of methods, including:

  • Search engines
  • Databases
  • Grey literature reports, newsletters and directories
  • Websites of relevant organisations

This page lists some resources to help you get started, but is not comprehensive - you'll need to look elsewhere as well.

It's important to approach your search systematically as grey literature can sometimes be difficult to find. Before you start searching, ask yourself:

  • What exactly do I want to find in the grey literature?
    • Are you looking for a specific piece of information? e.g. "What is the most common cause of traffic accidents?"
    • Are there limits on what you're interested in? e.g. must be about Australia, must be recent
  • Who might produce or collect that kind of information?

This will influence how and where you search. For example, if your question was "What was the most common cause of traffic accidents in Australia over the last five years?", you might start by looking on Australian government websites, since there may be official records for that kind of information.

For more detailed guidance, see the Academic research on the internet and Developing a search strategy online tutorials .

Tips for using search engines:

  • Use multiple search engines - they often give different results.
    • Many search engines modify results based on your history. If this is a problem, try DuckDuckGo, which doesn't track user history.
  • Use subject-specific search engines as well as general ones if possible
  • Try restricting your search to .pdf or .doc files using the advanced search
    • These file types are often used to distribute reports and other documents
  • Restrict your search by domain if appropriate
    • e.g. Australian government websites end with .gov.au

Evaluating grey literature

You should evaluate every source you use, but it's particularly important to do so when using grey literature. The quality of grey literature can vary greatly as it comes from a wide range of sources and doesn't go through the traditional editorial process.

When evaluating grey literature, consider the following criteria:

  • Currency: When was the source created or updated? Is there anything more recent?
  • Authority: Who created the source? Are they reputable? Do they have any expertise in the area?
  • Objectivity: Why was the source produced? Is it intended to promote a product or opinion?
  • Audience: Who is the source aimed at? Is it detailed or rigorous enough for academic use?
  • Accuracy: Are there any obvious errors? What evidence is offered that the information is reliable?

The Evaluating sources section of the Academic research on the internet tutorial can help guide you through this process.

Arts resources

The "Primary sources in the Humanities" guide can help you find many sources of grey literature relevant to Arts and Humanities, e.g. historical government reports and personal narratives.

The "Government publications" guide may also be helpful for locating government documents.

Archives:

Other sites:

Business and Economics resources

Statistics:

Other information:

  • See the companies and industries guide for help finding many other types of financial and business information.
  • Material relating to a specific organisation (e.g. annual reports) may also be available through the organisation's website.

Information Technology resources

Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences resources

General medical / health resources:

Databases, directories, newsletters:

Australian government sites:

Other websites:

Discipline-specific resources:

Nursing and midwifery:

Nutrion and dietetics:

Rural and remote health:

Indigenous health:

Science resources

Databases:

Geoscience:

See the Map Collection guide for maps and geospatial data.

General / multidisciplinary resources

Library databases:

Many other databases include conference proceedings, check their descriptions on the databases library guide.

Theses:

Use Search to find Monash theses, and Trove for other Australian theses. See the theses library guide for international theses and more detailed information.

Government documents:

See the library's government publications guide for detailed advice on locating government documents from Australia and other countries.

Australian government sites:

Databases, archives, directories and newsletters:

Other websites: