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Homepage / Using grey literature in your research: A short guide

Using grey literature in your research: A short guide


books open on a desk

As you research and write your thesis, you might come across, or be looking for, ‘grey literature’. This is quite simply material that is either unpublished, or published but not in a commercial form.

Types of grey literature include:

  • Conference proceedings
  • Government reports
  • Theses
  • Internal reports, research and data produced by companies and organisations

Where will I find it?

Links to Cranfield’s past theses and research output, as well as theses from around the world can be found on the Theses page on our website.

You can also find UK government reports online.

Conference proceedings and papers can be found using our databases, such as SSRN, IEEE, Scopus and Web of Science. You can also use Google Scholar to find conference papers and proceedings.

Trade publications will be specific to the industry you are researching but can be a good source of information.

Why should I use it?

  • Grey literature is generally less biased than published work.
  • You might find new evidence – for example, conferences are where researchers share insights and new findings.
  • You might discover new references to published literature that your searches may have missed.
  • Including grey literature makes your review more thorough.

Bear in mind… grey literature can provide useful evidence for your thesis, but is not of the same standard as published, peer-reviewed work. You must always evaluate your sources. Read more here on evaluating your sources.

If you have any questions about research sources of any kind, please contact MIRC.

Feature image from Pixabay:

Angela Sparks

Written By: Angela Sparks

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