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Social Sciences Guide to Research

What is Grey Literature?

Grey Literature is

“…information produced on all levels of government, academia, 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.”

Schnopfel J. (2010, December).Towards a Prague definition of grey literature. Paper presented at: Twelfth International Conference on Grey Literature: Transparency in Grey Literature. Grey Tech Approaches to High Tech Issues, Prague, Czech Republic  Available from:

Examples of Grey Literature

Grey Literature encompasses many different forms of scholarship.

Such as:

  • Abstracts
  • Conference papers, posters & proceedings
  • Dissertations & theses
  • Documentaries
  • Government documents & papers
  • Policy documents & statements
  • Reports
  • Reprints
  • Research notes
  • Reviews
  • Websites & blogs
  • Working papers

and many more that can be found here.

Searching for Grey Literature

Some Grey Literature can be found in our Library catalogue and databases but you will also want to search the broader web including organizational and government websites.

When looking for Grey Literature you will need to focus the scope of your research.


  • What kinds of information are you looking for?
    • theses and dissertations?
    • conference posters, papers, or proceedings?
    • government reports?
  • Who would publish this type of information?
    • government?
    • advocacy groups?
    • industry?
  • Do you have limits to time period or geographic area that you are looking for?

Evaluating Grey Literature

The AACODS checklist is designed to enable evaluation and critical appraisal of grey literature. It has the flexibility to be applied to a number of grey literature resources.

AACODS (Authority, Accuracy, Coverage, Objectivity, Date, Significance)

  • Authority: Who is responsible for the content and are they credible?
  • Accuracy: Is the document supported by credible, authoritative sources?
  • Coverage: Does the document clearly state parameters that define their content coverage?
  • Objectivity: Is there bias? Is it easily detected?
  • Date: Can you find the date? For the content to inform your research it must have a date to confirm relevance
  • Significance: Does the document add something unique to the research?
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