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Health & Society Resources @ UTSC

Search this guide to get started with research in public health.

What is Grey Literature?

Grey literature is any literature that has not been published through traditional (commercial, for-profit) means. It is commonly produced by governmental or inter-governmental agencies, research institutes, professional associations, think tanks, not-for-profit organizations, and businesses.

Grey literature documents are often produced to report on activities, for the organization's records or for wider distribution. Grey literature often has an "on the ground" perspective, and since it bypasses the delays of commercial or academic publishing, it can be more current than literature in scholarly sources. 

Examples of grey literature include:

  • Government documents
  • Reports
  • Statistics and data
  • Policy documents
  • Working papers or white papers
  • Conference proceedings
  • Dissertations and theses

Because grey literature is not controlled by commercial publishing, it is often excluded from large databases or other mainstream sources. To find it, you will need to explore a variety of non-traditional sources, like document collections, websites, or portals, to ensure a comprehensive search.

Grey Literature Tutorial

Recommended Guides on Grey Literature

Find Grey Literature on Google

An effective way to find grey literature is to identify government agencies, organizations, non-profits, professional associations, think tanks, or research agencies that are likely to be publishing information on your topic, then search their websites. Look for sections on their websites with names like Documents, Reports, or Library.

You can use the Google Advanced Search page to find webpages or documents from these organizations. Enter your keywords, then try one of the following strategies:

  • You can search by site or domain to narrow your search results to a particular organization's website. For example, entering un.org would search for webpages on the UN's website.
  • You can search by file type option to narrow your results to PDFs, Word documents, or other formats. This is a good way to find full-text reports and documents. 

Screenshot of the Google advanced search interface, with site/domain and file type highlighted.

Find Grey Literature on Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a great source of government reports, conference papers, theses & dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, technical reports, court opinions, and patents across disciplines.

Grey Literature Gateways

Find Government Documents and Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) Documents

Government bodies frequently publish reports and studies on topics relevant to health science. In Canada, government bodies at both the national and provincial levels produce relevant material.

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Find Research and Policy Documents

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Find Guidelines

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Find Evidence for Decision-Making

Find Clinical Trials

Find Dissertations and Theses

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Find Conference Proceedings and Papers

Conferences are great sources of new research, often featuring studies before they appear in journals.

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Find Grey Literature in Institutional Repositories

Find Newspaper and Magazine Articles

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