Sci-Tech Grey Literature

A several-years old blog post that I was a reminded of today when I registered for the GreyNet conference and the FDLP gov docs

Sci-Tech Grey Literature (hosted by SLA Webinars)
Matthew Von Hendy, Green Heron Information Services

  • Open Access resources: focus on
  • What is Grey Literature? Working PLOS definition: everything but peer-reviewed academic journals and book publications: e.g., technical reports, gov docs and white/paper, patents/data sets, conference reports.
  • Digitization will change the type and quantity of grey literature over time
  • General tip when searching and assessing grey lit: find their Advanced Search function and assess how searchable the site is and what types of documents they may organize and catalog better (e.g., conference papers, theses, government publications).

Limitations of Grey Lit:

  • Critical review is necessary, since grey lit isn’t necessarily peer-reviewed or published by credible sources

Specific Sci-Tech Grey Lit

The Good (good search capabilities):

  • (federated search for research, articles and conference proceedings)
  • (U.S. gov); (federated search for international government science resources)
  • (newest)

The Bad (limited search capabilities):

  • Helpful for finding corporate/conference proceedings. Tip: use the Content drop down menu.
  • Good quality control of directories. Uses Google interface and limits search capabilities.

The Ugly (difficult search capabilities): is this really the best we can do?
Google Scholar. Tip: use ‘thesis dissertation’ in the ‘with at least one’ field.
Google (general). Tip: filter by specific doc type (e.g., .pdf)

Paid Subscriptions:
Scopus, Web of Science. For conference papers.
Proquest Dissertations Abstracts. Still the major resource for dissertations and theses.
Bios, Compendex, GeoRef, IEEE Xplore, Inspec, Environment Sciences and Pollution Managment

Note: most are now indexing grey lit sources, but are still focused on academic journals and publications.

Institutional Repositories:

  • Rankings of Web Repositories.
  • Schools that are making institutional repositories available (e.g., Virginia Tech Digital Library and Archives and MIT’s Institutional Repository). Note access and what is available varies (e.g., author information, publication status, etc.)



  • International Conference on Grey Literature