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Grey Literature: How do I find Grey Literature?

Searching for grey literature

Grey literature can sometimes be difficult to find. Before you start searching, ask yourself:

  • What exactly am I looking for? Be as specific as possible.
  • Who might produce or collect that kind of information? When looking for grey literature it is worthwhile thinking about if there is an organisation / association /professional body / government agency / industry body / think tank/private research organisation / company

that covers the area related to your information need. Once you have identified likely organisations you can often locate relevant publications and research on their websites.

The links and tabs below offer information about using these techniques to search, but if you have any questions you can contact a librarian for more help.

Searching library databases

The library subscribes to many databases which index different types of grey literature, including conference papers, reports, government documents, newsletters, and statistics. 

You can use the library databases to search for grey literature. You can also use the library databases to help you find information to guide you towards other sources of grey literature. Techniques such as author searches and citation searching on database materials can help you seek out important grey literature.

Where conference papers have been presented at an academic conference, published as a book or as a special issue of a journal, they can be readily found in library databases. Some key databases that index conference proceedings include:

COS: conference papers index (via ProQuest)

Find citations to papers and poster sessions from major scientific meetings worldwide. Covers subject areas such as the life sciences, environmental sciences and the aquatic sciences. Some older material covers physics, engineering and materials science.


Standards issued by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc) are available in full text. This database also provides full text access to IEEE transactions, journals, magazines and conference proceedings.


Collection of online bibliographic databases, includes summaries/abstracts of journal articles on Australian political, economic, legal, social, Aboriginal, health, family, technical and cultural affairs indexed in over 80 databases including APAIS, APAFT etc


One of the largest bibliographic, multidisciplinary databases. Covers chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, life sciences, health sciences, social sciences, psychology and economics, as well as biological, agricultural, environmental and general sciences

Web of Science

Web of Science indexes core journal articles, conference proceedings, data sets, and other resources in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. 

Searching for conference papers in Scopus

1. Enter search term

2. Select conference from fields box and click search.

Citation searching is another technique useful in locating grey literature.  It is when the citations of an important book or journal are examined for relevant articles that may have been missed by database searches. This can provide you with more recently published articles or literature that may be relevant for your topic.  It allows you to search forward in the published literature, starting from your known reference, to locate new articles which cite your known reference in their bibliographies.

Library databases such as Scopus, Web of Science, Medline, and PsycINFO allow you to perform citation searching.


Citation searching in Web of Science

1. Enter title into the search box and press search

2. Click on the number after Times Cited on right hand side of results page, and a list of other articles citing the article will be displayed.

Grey Sources

Many organisations, associations and professional groups hold conferences which they make available online. Useful sites to search for conference proceedings include:

Google Scholar and other databases

Google and Google Scholar can be useful search tools when looking for grey literature. The results returned will not necessarily be grey literature as they search across many academic papers as well.  It is useful to be aware there are a few tricks that make it quicker and easier to get to what you need.

Search tip: use Google to search across multiple Australian, state, territory and local government website pages by including (or to limit to Northern Territory bodies) in your search.

The University of British Columbia has useful tips for grey literature searching with Google and Google Scholar.

Tips for using search engines:

  • Use multiple search engines - they often give different results.
    • Many search engines modify results based on your history. If this is a problem, try DuckDuckGo, which doesn't track user history.
  • Use subject-specific search engines as well as general ones if possible
  • Try restricting your search to .pdf or .doc files using the advanced search
    • These file types are often used to distribute reports and other documents
  • Restrict your search by domain if appropriate
    • e.g. Australian government websites end with


Common search engines only search a small percentage of the web.  Much of the information is not discoverable by web crawlers such as Google. Other specialised, deep-web search engines, portals and databses can be used to discover this "hidden" information. 


BASE is one of the world's biggest search engines for academic open access resources.

Grey Matters

A practical search tool for health-related grey literature.


A deep web search engine for free, medically-focused information.

A deep web search engine with a focus on science and technology information.

Deep Web Technologies (2020) [Iceberg websearching image]

Subject area resources


Other information:

  • See the Business Guide: Company, Country & Industry Data for help finding many other types of financial and business information.
  • Material relating to a specific company or organisation (e.g. annual reports) may also be available through the company or organisation website.


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