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Finding Grey Literature: Sources of Grey Literature
This guide provides tools and methods to locate grey literature
This page has links to general or aggregated grey literature sources. Discipline specific resources can be found under the discipline tabs.
Educational and research institutions are major producers of grey literature in the form of theses, conference papers, working papers, reports and more. Many of these resources are available as open access. The sites below will assist you in locating and searching these repositories. The repository for JCU is called Research Online @JCU.
OpenDOAR is the quality-assured, global Directory of Open Access Repositories. You can search and browse through thousands of registered repositories based on a range of features, such as location, software or type of material held.
Tip: Try searching by subject to find listings in a specific field of research.
ResearchOnline@JCU is the online institutional repository for James Cook University. It contains a growing collection of publications and creative works which form the University's archive of research outputs of staff and higher degree research students.
The sites listed below provide access to digital theses from around the world that are available as open access (free). Some also list theses that need to be purchased.
OATD.org aims to be the best possible resource for finding open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world. Metadata (information about the theses) comes from over 1100 colleges, universities, and research institutions.
Use the advanced search and limit to the content type Thesis/Dissertation
Statistics and data
Statistics and data are often considered grey literature as they are published by government, research organisations and researchers, not by traditional publishing sources. Below are some places to find these resources.
Australia's research data commons helps you find, access and reuse data for research from 100 Australian research organisations, government agencies and cultural institutions. RDA harvests data descriptions and links to data held with their data publishing partners. JCU has over 2,500 datasets in RDA
These are directories that highlight a range of grey literature sources across all disciplines.
Covers grey literature in Europe and covers Science, Technology, Biomedical Science, Economics, Social Science and Humanities.
Think tanks or institutes:
Conduct research on social policy, political policy and strategy, culture, technology and other significant government related responsibilities.
May be cross disciplinary.
Usually have highly specialised knowledge.
Usually address current issues and may be used to enliven public debate.
Outputs can be controversial.
May act as a lobby group.
Library databases and catalogues
Library catalogues contain grey literature in the main lending collections as well as in archives, special collections and theses collections.
Many databases also list grey literature, especially theses and conference papers. Check the page for your discipline to see databases containing grey literature.
Try searching databases and catalogues for terms such as:
(conference OR symposium OR seminar OR workshop) AND (paper OR proceedings)
thesis OR dissertation OR doctorate
government AND (document OR report)
"working paper" OR "white paper" OR "green paper" etc
Many databases and catalogues contain fields and limiters for document, format or content type that you can use to limit the results to these types of papers or formats. You may need to use the advanced search to see these options, or look for filters in your search results. You can search for these in the limiters options (sometimes in the advanced search screen) of many databases. It will normally be located in a section named document, format or content type.
The sites below are union catalogues, which allow you to search the collections of many libraries at once. These are particularly useful for finding theses and conference papers.
Trove is an overarching search interface to search most Australian libraries, as well as museums, archives, repositories and other research and collecting organisations. Grey literature you can find includes theses, conference papers and proceedings, reports and other content held in these collections.
WorldCat.org lets you search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world. This can help you locate where grey literature you have identified is available.
Preprint databases contain the author's original manuscript before submission for traditional publication. There are preprint archives available for most disciplines. The link below is for a search engine for multiple preprint servers.
Content of preprint servers are not peer reviewed; exercise caution when using these sources. Read any comments that may be attached to your article to see if others agree or disagree with the article content.
OSF Preprints is an aggregator of various preprint servers, both those hosted on the OSF and elsewhere. Examples of disciplinary preprint servers indexed in OSF Preprints are SocArXiv, PsyArXiv, engrXiv, ArXiv, bioRxiv, PeerJ Preprints, RePEc, and Cogprints.
It contains over 2,100,961 searchable preprints.
See your discipline page for more discipline specific archives.
Patents, Standards and IP sources
Patents, standards and IP documents are also considered grey literature as they are published by organisations and individuals, not by traditional publishing sources. Below are some places to find these resources.
Searches US patents. Does not include very recent patents or patent applications published before a U.S. patent is or is not awarded. Google can search even early patents by keyword whereas USPTO cannot search pre-1976 patents by keyword.
Joint ISO/Australian Standards, Joint NZ/Australian Standards, Draft Australian Standards, and amendments to Australian Standards ONLY. Limited to 2 concurrent users.
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