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Information Technology

What is grey literature and why would I use it?

Grey literature is "Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body.

CGL Luxembourg definition, 1997-expanded in New York, 2004

Grey literature is informally published material that usually has not been peer reviewed. It can however be invaluable for your research. 

It is produced from a variety of sources, and is usually not indexed or organised, often making it difficult to locate.

Grey literature differs from "black literature" which is the familiar peer-reviewed publications found in commercial publishers' databases.   

The Grey Literature Library Guide provides a detailed overview including techniques to find and evaluate grey literature. 

Examples of grey literature

Conference Proceedings Newsletters
Technical Reports Theses and dissertations
Government documents Research Reports
Patents Maps
Clinical trials and practice guidelines Blogs
Videos Census data
Informal communications pre and post print articles
White papers Working papers

For a comprehensive listing of grey literature types view the greynet.org table.