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About Grey Literature: Getting Started

Types of Grey Literature

  • Census Data
  • Conference Papers/Proceedings
  • Dissertations
  • Government Documents
  • Patents
  • Preprints
  • Standards
  • Technical Reports
  • White Papers
  • etc.

Producers of Grey Literature

  • Government Agencies
  • Institutional Repositories
  • Online Repositories
  • Research Centers/Think Tanks 
  • Academic Conferences
  • Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)
  • Industries
  • Funding Agencies/Research Organizations    
  • Professional Associations/Societies

Science & Engineering Librarian

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Deric Hardy
Contact Information:
Location: Perkins 233

Search Duke University Libraries for Grey Literature:



What is "Grey Literature"?

Grey literature stands for manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by library holdings or institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body

The definition of "Grey Literature" was provided by the 12th International Conference on Grey Literature (Prague, 2010) 

Key Grey LiteratureTerms




datasets, conference papers/proceedings, dissertation, evidence, evidence synthesis, gray literature, gray literature, google, government documents, "not formally published", patent, preprint, publication bias, reports, search, systematic review, thesis, working paper

  • Charles P. Auger is credited with coining the term "Grey Literature" li> Used originally to refer to intelligence reports and notes on atomic research
  • A part of new channels of scientific communication in a changing research environment
  • The term “grey literature” was first used in 1978 at a conference held by British Lending

Effective Google Search Strategies for Grey Literature

  • Helps you find credible sources other than peer-reviewed articles and books published from academic press (i.e., grey/gray literature)
  • One way to find more reliable sources is to limit by the following domains with the limiters
    • "Domain Limiters" (.gov, .edu, .org., .mil)
    •  Examples: [ ] or [ united states ]
      • Allows you to limit your search to within a site and/or domain

Benefits of Grey Literature

  • Helps to prevent publication bias
  • Quicker availability of information
  • Reports neutral or negative results
  • Diversifies available research literature

Citation Styles for Grey Literature



Search Grey Literature Sources

NGO Search 

Custom Search


IGO Search

Custom Search


Recommended Grey Lit Citation Managers


  • Organization of sources
  • Curation of full-text PDF files 
  • Creation of bibliographies in your required citation style format
  • Insert citations and bibliographies directly into your word document
   Citation Tool Comparison Chart