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Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

What is Gray Literature?

Gray literature refers to literature produced and distributed outside traditional academic and commercial publishing industries. Instead of books or articles, gray literature usually takes the form of:  

  • governmental or private sector research
  • conference proceedings
  • clinical trials - ongoing or unpublished
  • dissertations
  • committee reports
  • data sets
  • standards

The list above is not comprehensive. There are many other forms of gray literature. This page will show you a few places to search for gray literature and offer some searching tips along the way.

If you have any questions or need help finding sources please get in touch with your librarian, Tim Berge. He's happy to meet with you and help you find the research you need.

Finding Gray Literature

A couple general search tips:

  • A lot of library databases will have some amount of gray literature. In order to find it you will need to go to the "advanced search" and select your publication type. This way you control the types of sources you search and can find results that only include gray literature. You will want to select things like "conference paper," "factsheet," "pamphlet" and avoid things like "periodical" and "academic journal." 


  • Google can be very useful for finding government reports. To effectively search Google you need to limit the types of sites Google searches to only government sites. Type "site:gov" into the search box before your search terms, so a full Google search might look like: site:gov "coral reef." Any report or publication you find on a government website will likely be gray literature.