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Research Process: A Step-by-Step Guide: 2e. Grey Literature

What is "Grey Literature"?

"That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers." (Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature, Washington, DC, October, 1999)

Grey literature includes:

  • Theses and dissertations
  • Conference papers and proceedings
  • Research reports
  • Government documents

Conference Papers and Proceedings

Conferences are a major source of cutting edge research, particularly in science and engineering.  At conferences, researchers present papers on the research they are doing and obtain feedback from the audience.  The papers presented in the conference are then usually published in a volume called a conference proceeding.  It may be months before such information is published as a journal article, or it may never be published.

Conference papers and proceedings can be very difficult to find because they:

  • Can be published in different ways - as books, journal articles, abstracts
  • Take several years to be published or may not be published at all
  • May be deposited in an author or institutional repository

Government Documents

Government documents are an important primary source of information on a wide range of issues. They can be found through a search of the library catalog and government websites.

Theses and Dissertations

Theses and Dissertations are a rich source of information on a topic as they need to be original, and they need to be backed by an in-depth literature review, and they often cover a narrow topics that might be right on target for the subject you are researching.  Many theses and dissertations are freely available now, and those that are not available online can be ordered through our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service.  Georgia Tech theses and dissertations are available to you, see below.

Research Reports

Research reports contain the results of research projects, investigations, and surveys, and are usually published by the funder or the body undertaking the research. They are often called technical reports.

They can be found by searching the websites of subject associations and research organizations, in addition to the library catalog and databases.