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Literature Reviews: A Resource Guide

This guide offers information on what a literature review is, how to go about conducting one, and links to library resources that will help you with the process.

Grey literature: what it is and where to find it

"Grey Literature is a field in library and Information science that deals with the production, distribution, and access to multiple document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business, and organization in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." -- GreyNet International (http://www.greynet.org/). 

Specifically, these are things like government publications or reports from universities, think tanks or nonprofit agencies that aren't published in the traditional sense, and may be hard to find. Depending on your discipline or research question, you may use very little of this literature, or quite a lot. Where to find it will also vary depending on your question.

Finding Grey Literature

The Canadian Public Policy Collection and the Canadian Health Research Collection are archives of reports produced by Canadian federal, provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal groups, health authorities, nonprofit organizations, and similar organizations. The Canadian Research Index is a similar product from another provider.

Check out our Research Guide to finding federal government information.

The web site Hillwatch.com has a list of Canadian and international think tanks.

Use Google's site: command to search a particular domain or web site. The filetype:pdf command lets you limit to PDFs, which are the most common format for reports. For example, searching "mental health" site:gc.ca filetype:pdf will retrieve PDF files where mental health is the topic, published on any Government of Canada web site. 

You may want to include dissertations and theses in your search. There are several places to look for those, the largest of which is ProQuest Dissertations and Theses