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Environmental Sciences: Grey Literature

How do I find grey literature?


  • Search the UW Worldcat Catalog (below) for your term(s) and then limit by government documents (usually found on the left side navigation of the results screen).

  • Use a search engine and limit your search by domain (Recommended domain: .gov).

  • Use a specialized search engine like or

UW Worldcat

What is grey (or gray) literature?

A technical defintion...

"That which is produced on all levels of govenment, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers."

(Fourth International conference on Grey Literature, Washington D.C., October 1999)

Examples of grey literature may include:

Government reports
Conference proceedings
Working papers
Market research reports
Newsletters and/or bulletins
Dissertations & Theses
Policy statements

Examples of why you might use grey literature:

  • It may be the only timely information available.
  • It may be a body of information that only governments typically collect and report on.
  • It may be valuable data/research conducted as part of an academic exercise (dissertation, working papers, etc.).
  • It may be a narrow topic with little published information available.
    • Hint:  If you are running into this issue, you may want to consider revising your topic if peer-reviewed literature is required.