Grey literature

To: "" <>
Subject: Grey literature
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 2010 05:35:30 +1100
It seems that Chris Sanderson's reference to non peer reviewed publications as 
"grey literature" struck a nerve, with many people interpreting "grey" as 
meaning something like "shady".  A quick Googling of the term revealed many 
pages defining and using the term, including Wikipedia. 

It appears that not only is the term well established and widespread, but there 
are actually journals about it (The Grey Journal, and yes, it's peer reviewed) 
and a Grey Literature International Steering Committee (GLISC), "which was 
established in 2006 after the 7th International Conference on Grey Literature 

One site acknowledges that the term "brings connotations of bleakness, apathy, 
indifference, and questionable authority to mind", but claims it has had its 
current meaning since the 1920s.

So I guess we can't complain about its use. However, while there are many sites 
defining it as Chris does, most have a different definition. E.g. "information 
that is not searchable or accessible through conventional search engines or 
subject directories and is not generally produced by commercial publishing 

Can anyone explain why there are two definitions?  Is one just a subset of the 
other (i.e. all peer reviewed publications are searchable)?  And by the 
narrower definition, are Wingspan and TBO grey literature or not?  Are they 

Some (grey) references:

Peter Shute

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