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What is Grey Literature?
Grey literature is material of a scholarly nature produced outside the usual publication channels such as peer-reviewed journals; it is generally not commercially published (Example). Grey literature can include
- government publications
- may be US or another country, and any level from local/municipal to national
- think tank reports
- studies from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
- reports from or intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)
- publications from charitable or non-profit organizations
- conference proceedings
- working papers
- evaluation reports
- technical reports
- theses and dissertations
- digital libraries or repositories
- spatial data
Finding Grey Literature
Grey literature can be harder to identify and find because it often isn't formally published or indexed in the databases used to find scholarly literature.
Some specialized databases may include some grey literature; for example
CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online)
A source for theory and research in international affairs, from 1991 to present, including working papers, essays and case studies with overviews of events or concepts in the study of international relations.
Other strategies to help identify grey literature include:
- check lists of references in books or articles
- identify likely producers of grey literature (think tanks, government agencies, NGOs, etc.)
- Look for Resources, Publications, Reports, Data or similar categories on agency or organization websites
- identify experts in the topic and check their CVs for their publications, reports, conference talks, etc.
- search online - for example, limit Google searches to organization sites by including 'site:.org' (no quotes) in the search
If you're not familiar with the think tank, IGO, NGO, etc., it's useful to review the About Us section of their website and look for other views about the organization in order to place their work in context and better evaluate the authority and credibility of their work.