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Grey Literature

Searching Google

You can use Google's Advanced Search to formulate effective grey literature searches.

Websites

Often a website's search function fails to discover the results you might expect to find. Using Google's site or domain option to search within the website e.g., .gov.au may allow you to discover documents you're looking for.

File types

Grey literature is often published online as a pdf or word document. Using Google's file type search will help narrow down the results to these file types.

Using Operators in your searches

Google allows you to use operators within your search to help you refine your searches. Some common ones include

+ for AND

- for NOT

OR for OR

"" for a phrase search

You'll find other refinement options here.

Verbatim Mode

Google will display results based on your search history, preferences and website visits. You can use Verbatim mode in the tools option to disable this default function.

 

Archived Websites

Internet search engines will provide access to material currently available online. When a website is taken down or the content owner changes - e.g.,  Government Departments, the content on these websites can disappear. Internet Archives are collections of archived websites that may provide you with access to some grey literature which is no longer available through a search engine.

Australian Internet Archives

Pandora - a growing collection of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996.

Australian Government Web Archive - a collection of Commonwealth Government websites. Initially content collected specifically for the collection commenced in June 2011, content from before this time is gradually being added.

International Internet Archives

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

Searching Google Scholar

While much of the content you'll find in Google Scholar is not grey literature, the information comes from academic publishers, professional societies and university repositories, it does include

  • US & European Patents
  • Unpublished reports from university repositories
  • working papers from professional societies
  • Government documents indexed from the publishers rather than the government website

Further Reading

Haddaway, N. R., Collins, A. M., Coughlin, D., & Kirk, S. (2015). The Role of Google Scholar in Evidence Reviews and Its Applicability to Grey Literature Searching. Plos ONE, 10(9), 1-17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138237