Answered By: Niall Rowe
Last Updated: Apr 01, 2016     Views: 22

The term ‘Grey Literature’ refers to:

"... the production, distribution, and access to multiple document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business, and organization in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."

Source: GreyNet

Whilst the term is still often seen in an academic or publishing context, the term was used more widely to describe unpublished or non-commercially published content prior to the diversification and growth in digital and Web based publishing.  

Traditionally, Grey Literature comprised non-peer reviewed material but with the advent of Open Access publishing could be said to include academic or scholarly works shared via Open Access Repositories and research databases (eg. pre-prints and e-prints).

In addition to academic works Grey Literature could include the following:

  • Reports
  • Conference proceedings
  • Theses and dissertations
  • White papers
  • Patents & Technical Standards
  • Online newsletters, e-mails, blogs, social media and forums
  • Working Papers
  • Surveys
  • Data collections

For authoritative sources on Grey Literature see The Grey Journal and Publishing Research Quarterly

Also see the following guides:

The Liaison Librarian for your subject can also provide further help and information.

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