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EES1134: Climate Change Policy

What Is Grey Literature?

As defined by the Grey Literature International Steering Committee, grey literature is information "produced on all levels of government, academics, business, and organizations in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing." It is often excluded from large databases and other mainstream sources (e.g. academic journals). Grey literature can also mean literature that is hard to find or has inconsistent or missing bibliographic information. 

Key types of grey literature include:

  • Government documents
  • Dissertations and theses
  • Conference proceedings
  • Research papers
  • Technical reports
  • Statistics and data
  • Think tank materials
  • Policy documents

There are many different ways to search for and access grey literature. Here are some common methods:

  • Search engine searching (e.g. Google, Duck Duck Go)
  • Targeted website browsing/searching 
  • Grey literature database searching

Check out the resources below for some tips on where to get started!

Searching the Web

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

When searching Google, it helps to use versions from different countries. If you are looking for grey lit from the UK, for example, use Google UK to find results from that country. This list links to all Google domains for different countries. Additional tips on searching in Google are available on the "Grey Lit Search & Evaluation Tips" page in this guide's menu.

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.

Databases and Catalogues

Government 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.

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

U of T’s Theses and Dissertations in the Sciences 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

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 literature

Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers and magazines can be helpful sources of non-academic information. While the information in newspapers might not be acceptable as a source of scientific evidence, newspapers can often point you to key references or provide a source of evidence for public opinion. 

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.