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Political Science

Grey literature vs. Traditional Sources

"Grey Literature" include policy papers, working papers, and think tank publications. These sources are called grey literature because they are sometimes hard to locate and have no standard publication process. Because they are not standardized, they lack a vetting process like peer-review, but they often considered authoritative due to the prestige of the groups publishing them.

  Traditional Sources Grey Literature
Source Types
  • Journal articles
  • Books
  • Magazine articles
  • Newspapers
  • Movies and videos
  • ​Policy Briefs
  • Working Papers
  • Reports
  • White Papers
  • Theses & Dissertations
  • Websites & Blogs
  • Newsletters
Created by

Groups whose primary activity is publishing:

  • Scholarly Presses
  • Academic Publishers
  • Corporate Publishers
  • Film Studios

Entities and organization whose primary activity is not publishing:

  • Think Tanks
  • Research Institutes
  • Governments and Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs)
  • Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)

Grey Literature Resources

Strategies for Finding Grey Literature

Because they are not controlled by commercial publishers, there is not a standard place to look or find grey literature.

Strategies for Finding Grey Literature

Because they are not controlled by commercial publishers, there is not a standard place to look or find grey literature.

1) Search CIAO

2) Look at Bibliographies

Grey literature is sometimes cited in public policy research. Check the references of any sources you find to see what sort of grey literature is being cited.

3) Identify and Search Websites of Relevant NGOs and IGOs

The following links are tools that can be used to find relevant Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs):

Major NGOs and IGOs

Major NGOs
Major IPOs
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