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Research Guides

Linguistics: Gray Literature

Reference sources for language and linguistics

Gray Literature

Gray literature refers to government, academic, and professional literature that is not commercially published. Gray literature is often only available through specialized channels, presenting challenges for identifying, locating, and accessing it. Gray literature may be found institutional collections and/or digital repositories. Some types of gray literature encountered in linguistics include:

  • working papers
  • conference proceedings
  • theses and dissertations
  • field notes
  • data sets (including language corpora)
  • preprints
  • research/technical reports
  • government, policy, and legal documents
  • technical standards and patents
  • Unique documents such as manuscripts, archives, and personal communications are not generally considered gray literature

See below for online repositories of linguistics gray literature, as well as sources for individual types such as working papers, conference proceedings, and theses and dissertations.

Open Digital Repositories

Linguists share their work in a number of online repositories. Such repositories may contain various types of gray literature together, especially conference papers, working papers, and preprints. Repositories may also host online monographs, journals, or archival materials.

Working Papers in Linguistics

Working papers are preliminary scientific or technical papers, often released by students and faculty researchers to share ideas or to elicit feedback before publication. They can be the basis for related work, and may be cited by peer-reviewed papers. While working papers in linguistics may be good sources for recent work in the field, access can be limited and is not centralized. When available, working papers can typically be accessed from an institution's linguistics department website, library catalog, and/or institutional repository. Digital access may not be directly available from all institutions.

Open Working Papers from Select Institutions

Working Papers for Purchase

Conference Proceedings

Conferences are meetings of people with some shared interest, typically organized by professional or scholarly associations. Presenting unpublished research in conference papers is an important element of scholarly conferences, and these may be published in conference proceedings. Conference proceedings may be held by the association organizing the conference, the hosting institution, or a third party. To search for conference papers in search tools or on the web, combine the terms conference and/or proceedings with the organization name, conference title, or the name of the topic or discipline.

Select Sources for Linguistics Conference Proceedings

Dissertations & Theses

Theses and dissertations are a key source for finding the latest scholarship, additional material such as data sets, and detailed research. They can also help you find out what has been written on a topic, uncover other sources through citations, and get inspiration for your own research project. Theses and dissertations are typically held in print and/or electronically by the institution where they were written. Many newer theses can be accessed online. Check with the library or academic department where it was written if you cannot find a thesis or dissertation online.

Dissertation & Thesis Resources

UW Theses & Dissertations