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CHM 115: Kinetics, Thermodynamics, and Environment: Gray Literature

Definition of Gray Literature

Gray literature is literature that is scholarly, but not peer-reviewed nor published in a "traditional" scholarly format such as a university press book or a scientific journal.

Examples of gray literature are:

  • Posters
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Government Reports/Webpages/Statistics
  • Reputable Nonprofit Organization Reports/Webpages/Statistics
  • Interactive Maps
  • Datasets or Databases 
  • Preprints (articles that are posted to a preprint server before they are submitted to a journal and PRIOR to being peer reviewed)

Gray literature can help inform our search strategy. We can also learn from gray literature what science is currently being done on the bench, in the lab, or in the field, as many scientists don't publish all of their work in a scientific paper until their findings are complete. We also need to recognize that not all scientists work in academia; many of them work in the corporate, nonprofit, or government sectors. By reading and understanding how research is being currently done in the field, we can get a fuller picture of our research topic(s).

Finding Conference Proceedings

Conference papers allow researchers to share and discuss their findings before the work of formal article writing begins. This is one way to find very recent research on a topic. Citations for conference proceedings are included in subject-specific databases and databases created just for proceedings. Using author searching techniques in other databases or Google Scholar can be helpful if trying to find more than a conference work's abstract or related works if the conference work (poster, paper, etc.,) is not available in full-text. Citations for conference proceedings are included in subject-specific databases and several databases created just for proceedings. Below are some of the best places to find conference proceedings in Chemistry: