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Grey Literature for Non-Health Subjects

Starting your Search

It can be difficult to know where to begin - and when to end - a grey literature search. Some considerations when developing a grey literature search strategy include:

Who would likely have written about your topic?

  • Government agencies?
  • Non-governmental organizations?
  • Academic institutions?
  • Industry?

‚ÄčWhat kinds of literature would help answer your research question?

  • Clinical trials?
  • Theses and dissertations?
  • Conference proceedings?
  • Reports?
  • Statistics?

Which time periods or geographic areas are relevant to your research?


Here are some general databases that can be searched for reports. When searching for grey literature, you should also look for associations or NGO's in your field of study and see if they have published reports that are relevant to your topic. 

Conference Proceedings

Here are some general databases that can be searched for conference proceedings. You can supplement these with your own knowledge of major conferences and organizations in your area, using their websites and Google search techniques to find additional proceedings. 


Preprints are manuscripts which may have been submitted to a journal, but not yet published. They have not yet gone through a formal peer review process, but some preprint servers do allow other researchers to post comments.

Preprint Repository Table


Standards and Patents


Standards are agreed-upon specifications and guidelines for the performance, operation or composition of a product or process. You can find more information about standards and standard databases in the UBC Standards Research Guide.


Most patent offices provide access to patent documents via freely available databases. Patents contain descriptive and useful technical information (including drawings or diagrams) that may not be found elsewhere. They also cite references that can serve as additional sources of information. Patents assist in both design and academic research.

Find more information about patents and patent databases in the UBC Patent Research Guide. Below are some examples of patent databases.