Skip to Main Content

SOWK 554: Research Methods in Social Work Research

This course guide is designed for SOWK 554: Qualitative Methods in Social Work . It includes a collection of resources available through UBC Library and on the web

Sources for Grey Literature

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health's (CADTH) free online resource for grey literature searching, “Grey Matters: a practical tool for searching health-related grey literature.”

Grey Matters: a practical tool for searching health-related grey literature (Word Document available for download)

Think tanks are a source for policy research but make sure you look at the "about page" and Board to read their mandate and mission. Do they receive funding and if they do from who? 

UBC Subscription Policy Databases


British Columbia


U.S. / International


Grey Literature is "literature 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.


Grey literature is the unpublished, non-commercial, hard-to-find information that organizations such as professional associations, research institutes, think tanks, and government departments produce.

It can be invaluable to your research: it is part of the overall evidence base and functions as an alternative source that may be used to overcome possible bias presented by published information.

Examples of grey literature include:

  •  Annual reports
  •  Blogs and social media
  •  Conference proceedings and abstracts
  •  Electronic communities (email listservs, forums, etc.)
  •  Informal communications (conversations, emails, letters)
  •  Newsletters
  •  Reports & publications from governmental and non-governmental organizations
  •  Thesis and dissertations
  •  Technical reports and standards
  •  White papers

Grey literature can be difficult to find because:

  • It is not systematically organized or described like standard types of literature (journals, books etc.)
  • It is not systematically archived or preserved.
  • Often not indexed in commercial databases
  • It is vast in scope.


  • Canadian Think Tanks (via University of Alberta Library)  - a subject guide that provides an a-z list of Canadian think tanks. 
  • Institute for Social Research (York University) - Houses the largest university based survey research centre in Canada.
  • Grey Literature Report (New York Academy of Medicine, NYAM): NYAM's bi-monthly report identifying new publications in health sciences grey literature has ceased publication, but materials from 1999 to 2016 are still available
  • Grey Source Index: Provides categorized examples of web based grey literature.
  • CHODARR Project (SFU digitized collections): A publicly accessible digital archive of research materials related to health and social welfare, with an emphasis on housing, gender, aboriginal issues, HIV and mental health. Most of the material is produced by community organizations, community-based researchers, or government agencies, and includes (but is not limited to): newsletters, annual reports, research reports, community-based project proposals, informational pamphlets, posters, brochures, artwork, training manuals, conference papers, and government publications.