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WRTG 266 Writing for Social Change (O'Donnell): Finding Grey Literature

Finding Grey literature & Open Web Resources - Advanced Searching Tips

Hierarchy of grey literature denoting the varying degrees of information control and known expertise of the author.

The open web provides a plethora of resources for finding information about and from governmental and non-govermental organizations working to address issues surrounding your topic of research as well as grey literature.

What is grey literature?
Information published by entities (researchers or those working in the field) whose main purpose is NOT publishing (e.g. government and non-government organizations, think tanks, scholarly societies and associations, etc​. Grey literature might be technical documentation, white papers, working papers, symposia, bulletins, unpublished works, technical reports, fact sheets, standards, patents and the like. Watch this video for more info.)

Why is grey literature important?
A large amount of public policy information is published as grey literature.                             

Below are a few advanced Google searching tips for find grey literature:  

  1. Try using Google Advanced Search
  2. Include search terms like report OR analysis OR summary OR overview OR data
  3. Google ignores the word AND as a search operator. But, typing OR in all caps will find similar or related terms [e.g. "racial segregation" OR "modern segregation" OR "concentrated poverty"].
  4. Search for a particular document type [e.g. denver (hispanic OR latino) population filetype:xls].
  5. Search at particular site [e.g. site:.rochester.edu OR site:cityofrochester.gov OR site:census.gov OR pewresearch.org].
  6. Search a particular domain [e.g.  site:.gov OR  site:.org  OR site:.uk  See a full list of country code domains].
  7. Exclude words by using the "-" sign in front of the word you wish to exclude [e.g. denver (hispanic OR latino) -migrants].

 Image source: Kamei, F. et al., (2020) under a CC BY 4.0 license 

Databases with grey literature

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