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EES3001 Professional Scientific Literacy

This guide provides resources to help you with your rapid review assignment

What Is Grey Literature?

Grey Literature is any literature that has not been published through traditional means. It is often excluded from large databases and other mainstream sources.

Leaving grey lit out of a systematic review excludes a major section of the available research. To avoid bias and to ensure that the review is as thorough as possible, always search grey literature.

Grey Lit Sources

This list provides only a few producers and collectors of grey literature. Do a thorough search for sources in your field.

Government Documents

In Canada, government bodies at both the national and provincial levels produce relevant material.

Institutional Repositories

Many institutions have institutional repositories, online databases of publications by their members. These can include publications by faculty and student dissertations and theses.


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

Theses and Dissertations

Students conduct both systematic reviews and original studies for their theses and dissertations. These texts are not usually included in major databases.

U of T’s Theses and Dissertations research guide is an excellent resource, with links for both U of T theses and dissertations and those from other institutions.

Contacting Experts and Authors

Often, writers of systematic reviews find that some data is left out of studies. In such cases, a good option is to contact the author of the study.

Experts in the field can also be rich sources of information. Talk to an expert to find out:

  • Studies or information you have missed
  • New aspects of your research topic to consider
  • Sources of grey lit

Negative Results

Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers and magazines can be helpful sources of non-academic information.

U of T's research guide on Newspapers includes thorough information and some databases that also index magazines. You can also look up individual magazines in the library catalogue to determine our access.


Searching the Web

Sometimes, the best way to find grey literature is to search the Web. Different search engines have their own search algorithms that will pick up different results.

When you search on Google, your results are customized to your current region and past search behaviours. You can choose to see results for other countries from your computer and the Google app for Android. You may also wish to ensure that you are signed out of any personal Google accounts and/or use an incognito/private browser window when conducting your search. 

Another useful search engine is Duck Duck Go. Duck Duck Go does not collect user information and therefore results are not filtered based on your personal profile.