Grey literature is an important source of information for research in politics. It provides access to a broad range of information and often contains new ideas. Searching the grey literature also offers potential to balance any tendencies for publication bias in the published literature. It helps introduce alternative perspectives that may not be represented in the standard literature.
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.
Grey Literature includes:
|technical or research reports
|theses and dissertation
Finding Grey Literature:
- GreyNet International Directory of organizations in grey literature from GreyNet International
- DocuTicker: Database of Abstracts, A collection of grey literature abstracts, including reports published by government agencies, think tanks, NGOs, research institutes and other public interest groups
- Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR), a collection of open access repositories of research portals and databases, with options to search or browse by country, software format, type and size
- Open Grey, open access to over 700,000 bibliographical references to grey literature produced in Europe covering science, technology, biomedicine, economics, social science and the humanities
- Canadian Evaluation Society, searchable database providing access to unpublished Canadian documents and conference materials in a range of areas in the social sciences, including community development, public policy, criminal justice, and urban planning
- Government of Canada: Public Opinion Research Reports, access to information about public opinion research conducted by all federal departments and agencies as deposited with Library and Archives Canada as of August 1, 1996
- Policy Horizons Canada, publications produced by the government of Canada on a range of social topics, such as multiculturalism, public policy and sustainable development
- Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD): Publications, Publications and reports produced by the CCSD in a range of subject areas, including education, demographics and labour
- Georgetown University: Political Database of the Americas (PDBA), A non-governmental projects providing "centralized and systematized information about institutions and political processes, national constitutions, branches of government, elections and political constitutional studies
- Online Document System (ODS) of the United Nations, the ODS covers all types of official UN documentation, including access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards
UNBISNET (United Nations Bibliographic Information System)
Catalogue of full-text documents, publications, voting records and speeches indexed by the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva
How do you find sources of grey literature?
This guide presents a range of options, but there are many more available. Here are a few strategies:
- Finding the Hard to Finds: Searching for Grey Literature - University of British Columbia
- Check reference lists and bibliographies of published articles, systematic reviews, and similar resources
- Consult with authors, researchers and experts in the field
- Colloborate with a librarian who can assist you in searching for resources
Evaluating grey literature
Grey literature will not have gone through the same quality checking as peer reviewed material so additional careful evaluation of the source, the author, the contents is recommended. Check for authority, accuracy, coverage, objectivity, date and significance.