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ECOL 3300: Virtual Field Program in Ecological Problem Solving: Home

Course guide for Dr. Rugenski's ECOL 3300 course to help with finding peer-reviewed and grey literature

What is Grey Literature?

Grey Literature refers to work not formally published through scholarly or commercial channels such as journal articles or books. It is usually published through government agencies, universities, associations and societies, companies, research associations, and other professional organizations. Some examples grey literature are:

  • conference proceedings 
  • bulletins 
  • technical reports 
  • government documents
  • fact sheets 
  • newsletters
  • data sets 

Determining Reliability

When dealing with information it's important that we are confident in the reliability of a source. We can achieve this by asking these basic questions:

  • How current is the information? 
  • Does it have data and works cited to back claims?
  • Is the author an expert in the field?
  • Is it overtly biased or opinion vs fact?

More help with determining reliability can be found here

Searching for Grey Literature

Due to the very nature of grey literature, it can be one of the most challenging to search and find what you're looking for but it is literally everywhere! Luckily, a large portion of documents by government organizations can be easily found using Google Scholar. You can also take advantage of Google's source search which also works well for finding freely available data sets!

Google Scholar

Google Scholar will bring back scholarly and grey literature in your searches such as government or university technical reports, bulletins, and sometimes newsletters. You can adjust the year of publication to bring forward only those that are current or within the timeframe you wish to explore.

Using to your advantage

Searching basic google but adding site: .gov will pull results from governmental websites, will pull from organizations*, and will pull from institutions of education. For example, I might want a fact sheet on the endangered leatherback sea turtle in Georgia. I could search in Google "leatherback sea turtle georgia" and expect to find listings from Fish and Wildlife, NOAA or even National Parks System. 

*Organizations can have a wealth of grey literature as well but it is important to check for reliability like with anything.

Federal Agency Websites

These will often have individual state information for the topic you're looking for and can often times be searched within the website itself. Federal Agency Websites that may be helpful for your class:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services :

U.S. Geological Services : 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration :

National Parks System :

Helpful Databases

Library databases can be helpful in finding reliable peer-reviewed journal articles, and can also provide access to some grey literature such as conference proceedings, government bulletins, and legal cases. Some are more general in scope while others will be helpful for certain expertise groups. 


90+ databases with links to full text for thousands of scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, conference proceedings, and more, plus citations to books and media in the UGA Libraries. Using the Advanced Search feature will allow you to better shape your search. This can be an excellent place to start for all expertise groups.

Related Libguide