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Types of grey literature
The literature often produced from these bodies take the form of:
If you are not familiar with the terminology, the links above will take you to their definition.
What is grey literature?
As quoted by the Grey Literature International Steering Committee (GLISC) (see page 1), grey literature has been defined as:
Information produced on all levels of government, academics, 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.
In other words, the work is not tied to or controlled by commercial publishers (like the companies that publish your textbooks), who seek profit on the research or information produced. Grey literature is self-published and typically comes from:
- Government agencies
- Research institutes
- Organizations or companies
The value of grey literature
- Grey literature is an important source of information due to the uniqueness of the content that gets published. Because commercial publishers are looking to make a profit on the materials they publish, they often overlook niche research areas that serve smaller populations. Grey literature is one way to search for information in emerging or less popular research areas.
- Grey literature can sometimes be more current that commercially published information. It does not go through the potentially time-consuming peer-review process undertaken by commercial publishers, and therefore has a quicker turnaround time for dissemination.
- The importance of grey literature can vary between disciplines.
- Evaluate what you find - Because grey literature does not go through the same peer review process of something published commercially, caution needs to be taken when selecting grey literature to use. As with any resource, even formally published ones, bias or inaccuracies can exist and it is important to have some understanding of the author/originator of the information and their stance on a particular topic or issue.
- Issues around longevity - Resources openly available on the Internet can sometimes vanish, particularly if they are older items or if the website is not being kept up. If you find something useful, grab it! Typically things found in a repository or database have more longevity, but for one-off items posted on a website, that is not always the case.
General Gray Literature Resources
Grey Literature Report
The Grey Literature Report is a bimonthly publication of the NYAM Library alerting readers to new grey literature publications in health services research and selected public health topics.
The Grey Literature Network Service was founded in 1992. The goal of GreyNet is to facilitate dialog, research, and communication between persons and organisations in the field of grey literature. GreyNet further seeks to identify and distribute information on and about grey literature in networked environments. Its main activities include the International Conference Series on Grey Literature, the creation and maintenance of web-based resources, a moderated Listserv and combined Distribution List, The Grey Journal (TGJ), and curriculum development.
Provides examples of grey literature to the average net-user.
Organizations Producing Grey Literature
"Fill in the gaps in your public health research" with this directory from the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM)
Credit Where Credit Is Due!