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Grey Literature: Grey Literature

What is Grey Literature?

Grey Literature consists of documents that are not formally published through typical scholarly channels. It is produced by government agencies, universities, corporations, research centers, associations and societies, and professional organizations.Grey Literature is not scholarly information, however, it is an important source of information often published by practitioners and researchers in the field. It can contain statistics, facts, and other information not found in other published resources. Types of Grey Literature include:

  • Technical reports
  • Pre-prints
  • Fact Sheets 
  • Standards
  • Patents
  • Working papers
  • Committee reports
  • Business documents
  • Newsletters
  • Government documents
  • Technical documentation
  • Conference proceedings
  • White papers
  • Symposia
  • Bulletins
  • Unpublished works

For your assignment, you will be using a lot of government sources.

Locating Grey Literature

Given the unofficial and ephemeral nature of Grey Literature, it is often difficult to locate. There is no central holding place for Grey Literature like you find with databases. There are many web portals that have been developed to help with locating Grey Literature.

Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO)
  • Gathers working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers from non-governmental organizations, foundation research projects, and conferences. 
  • The reports and papers from research institutes can be very useful in giving you the practitioner's perspective on important issues.


  • Collection of thousands of case studies, evaluations, white papers, and issue briefs addressing different domestic and international topics.
Social Science Research Network
  • Indexes and abstracts research.
  • Many "sister" networks in the areas of accounting, cognitive science, coporate governance, economics, entrepreneurship and policy, financial economics, health economics, information systems, leadership, management, negotations, political science, classics, english and american literature, and philosophy.
Open Grey

Grey Literature is everywhere. Many refer to it as the proverbial needle in a haystack. There are many resources on the web and in the library and can help you. Please ask for help if you aren't finding what you need!

Google Scholar and Grey Literature

A large portion of grey literature is indexed in Google Scholar, particularly those documents written by governmental organizations.

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