Grey Literature: what is it?

Grey literature is defined as "information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing" ie. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." —ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997. Expanded in New York, 2004.

Why use it?

  • Good resources that help to monitor changes in a particular field
  • Offers the potential to balance any tendencies for publication bias found in published literature.
  • It is a way to locate experts in a field
  • Helps introduce alternative perspectives that may not be represented in standard literature.
  • Is rapidly produced and also very current
  • Information comes from industry and other non-academic institutions
  • Covers current state of affairs and historical collections
  • Is generated on various levels from international, state, province to municipality
  • Includes unpublished research

Examples of grey literature include:

  • technical or research reports
  • committee reports
  • market reports
  • conference papers
  • white papers
  • poster
  • pamphlet
  • conference presentations
  • blogs
  • emails
  • podcasts
  • government documents
  • speeches
  • preprint materials
  • theses and dissertation
  • newsletters
  • clinical trials
  • maps

Who "produces" grey literature?


Content last reviewed: January 28, 2020