UTS Library

Research Methodology 76090: Grey Literature and Alert Services

What is grey literature?

The term grey literature refers to research that is either unpublished or has been published in non-commercial form. Examples of grey literature include:

  • government reports.
  • policy statements and issues papers.
  • conference proceedings.
  • pre-prints and post-prints of articles.
  • theses and dissertations.
  • research reports.
  • geological and geophysical surveys.
  • maps.
  • newsletters and bulletins.
  • fact sheets.

Academics, pressure groups, and private companies are only some of the sources of grey literature.

The importance of grey literature

Much grey literature is of high quality. Grey literature is often the best source of up-to-date research on certain topics, such as rural poverty or the plight of homeless people in Sydney.

An increasing amount of grey literature is now available on the Web in the form of Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents. This means that it is relatively easy to find recent examples of grey literature using a simple Google search. For example to find information about homelessness in Sydney, we could simply:

  • Go to Google
  • Enter the search homelessness Sydney filetype:pdf in the Search box.
  • Click on Search.

Such a simple search can result in dozens or even hundreds of hits.

Institutional repositories

Universities world-wide now create institutional repositories to record the research conducted by academics. These are particularly useful sources of grey literature. One place to begin is OpenDOAR. Another resource for finding grey literature is BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine).

Web sites that index and collect grey literature are also growing in number. For European grey literature, there is OpenGrey, which holds references to over 700,000 pieces of grey literature.

Other sources include:

Dissertations and Theses (Proquest)

Google Scholar

WorldCat Advanced Search: Thesis/Dissertations (eg keyword homelessness)



Australian sources of grey literature include:


AOASG (Australasian Open Access Strategy Group)

TROVE Advanced Search- format: conference papers (eg keyword homelessness)

                                                        conference proceedings (eg keyword homelessness)

                                                        report (eg keyword homelessness)