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Applied Research for Students

Grey Literature

Grey literature consists of materials that fall outside of the commercial publishing model. Papers, reports, newsletters, and other types of documents written and published by government departments, research institutes, organizations or associations, etc. could be considered grey literature. 

These materials can be valuable sources of information, but it's important to note that they're not considered peer-reviewed or scholarly resources and should be critically evaluated before using them in your research.

Looking for grey literature?

  • Company, organization, or association websites
    • Many produce their own research, search for organizations in your topic area and search their website for publications
  • Advanced Google searching
    • Use a site: or filetype: search to help narrow down your research to a particular website, domain, or file type:
      • e.g. The site:gc.ca search will search within websites with a gc.ca domain (Government of Canada). Adding some keywords can make a more complex search.
      • e.g. The filetype:PDF search will restrict your search to include only PDF files.
  • Canada Commons
    • ‚ÄčA library database that includes many Canadian government publications

Evaluate Your Sources Using the CRAAP Method

calendarCurrency

• Is the information up-to-date?

When was it published?

image of an article with a bullseye through itRelevance

• Does the information relate to your research topic?

• Is the information in-depth enough for academic use?

image of an article with a person and a stampAuthority

• Is the author qualified to write about this topic?

• Can you find additional information about the author through Google?

• Has the information been published in a source that has undergone any peer review?

image of an article with a checkmarkAccuracy

• Is the information supported by evidence?

• Has the author provided citations or links to research they quote?

image of a hand holding a question markPurpose

• Is the information presented objectively, or could the author be trying to sell, entertain, or persuade readers?

• Can you detect any potential biases? (For journal articles, check to see if there are any declarations of conflicts of interest or competing interests, as well as if there is a statement of who funded the study, such as a foundation or government body.)

Knowledge Checks:

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