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MicroMasters® at the University of Edinburgh

An introduction to the resources available to support your learning

Grey literature

mountainsGrey literature is the term for literature not formally published in books or journals, or published in a non-commercial form.

This includes: technical or research reports from government agencies, reports and working papers from research groups, doctoral dissertations, conference proceedings, blogs, policy documents, newsletters, and market reports.

Understanding and being aware of the structures of commercial academic publishing, and how this affects what is published and how you access it, may be relevant to you in your studies.

As grey literature is not formally published, it is not subject to the same control as other literature, which has several implications:

  • Incorporation of viewpoints less likely to be heard or to publish in academic journals, or topics less likely to be of interest to publishers
  • Avoiding the lengthy formal publication process can mean that grey literature is produced quickly
  • Inclusion of negative results, helping you to avoid 'positive bias': e.g. studies with a definite positive effect of a medical treatment are much more likely to be published commercially

Some places to consider when searching for grey literature:

An excellent guide to grey literature, including a range of other sources, is available from the University of Wolverhampton.

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