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Grey Literature in Multicultural Women's & Gender Studies (MWGS) Research

This guide will help provide information about grey literature and resources to find grey literature that can be helpful in MWGS research.

Definition(s) of Grey Literature

Grey literature goes by a few names. Depending where you are in the world, it could be grey or gray literature, fugitive literature, or the shortened version, grey lit. Grey literature are important documents or resources used during scoping reviews, systematic reviews, and literature reviews. Even when performing in-depth research outside reviews, utilizing grey literature resources can provide important points of views and data from areas not privileged to, or have desire to, go through the peer reviewed process. Research and information obtained from non-peer-reviewed resources are vital to investigating the whole story. Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies' research, such as scholarship focused on feminism, LGTBQ, and BiPOC topics, need a multi-faceted direction of research to match its multidisciplinary place in academia.

Below you'll find conversations about grey literature and MWGS, as well as its connection to the archives.

What is Grey Literature?

"...any recorded, referable and sustainable data or information resource of current of future value, made publicly available without a traditional peer-review process." (p11)

Savić, D. (2018). Rethinking the Role of Grey Literature in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Grey Journal, 14 (Special Winter Issue), 7-14.


"Grey literature is a term that describes information products which are created and distributed in order to disseminate knowledge (ideas, facts, opinions) rather than to sell for a profit. In practice, therefore, grey literature can also be defined as information which is not marketed and distributed by commercial publishing organisations." (p9)

Owen, J.M. (1997, November 13-14). The expanding horizon of Grey LiteratureThird International Conference on Grey Literature, 1997, [Conference Proceeding pdf]. Jean Monet Building, Luxembourg.


"Grey literature refers to resources not available via mainstream publishing channels. Sources of grey literature don't have publishing as their core business, but rather produce research and other documents as part of their work."

The University of Melbourne. (2024). Population and Global Health. Library Guide.

Grey Literature in MWGS and its Connection to the Archive

Grey Literature in MWGS and its Connection to the Archive

MWGS research oftentimes leads you to special collections or the archives. The archives are filled with grey literature and can be utilized in almost any discipline. From vertical files, to oral histories and unpublished manuscripts, you truly can find history's voice in the archives.


"The field of women's studies differs from traditional academic disciplines in its inherent and fundamental interdisciplinary nature and its dual origins in the worlds of scholarly research and social action."

"In particular, the field of women's studies depends on access to archival collections, pamphlet material, unpublished scholarship, and grass-roots or small press publications-sources often called 'grey' literature..." (p35)

Marie, J., & Kushigian, N. (2002). Information Sources in Women's Studies and Feminism. (H.A. Olson, Ed.). K.G. Saur.

"More feminist research that brings localised and embodied knowledge on autonomous infrastructure could create more ways to imagine, conceptualise and advocate for access that go beyond centralised, top-down, market-based and state-regulated forms of access." (p16)

Perera, S. (2022). White Paper on Feminist Internet Research, Association for Progressive Communications Women's Rights Programme [Pdf]. Retrieved March 19, 2024, from 

"The sources for women's studies and feminism are not limited to traditional academic genres. Different use is made in this area of government and non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) publications and more legitimacy is given to grey literature and popular literature than in other areas of the academy." ( xi preface)

Olson, H. Ed., (2002.) Information Sources in Women's Studies and Feminism. K.G. Saur.

"Historically, women have been oppressed and have not had the same opportunities to publish the written work they have created in the same ways as men have. Indeed, much of the knowledge that women produced in the past could be considered grey literature, including such items as diaries and memoirs; underground publications like newsletters and papers from the second wave of the feminist movement; and pamphlets and other materials that were privately produced and circulated among women, such as how-to information on abortions."  (p183)

Ingold, C. (2011). Preserving the Literature of Women's and Gender Organizations: The availability of newsletters in libraries, commercial online databases, and organizational web sites. Feminist Formations, 23 (1), 182-211.

"Archives are neither race-neutral nor class-inclusive domains. Some archives include diaries and letters written by domestic workers, which chart the contours of their lives and struggles. Yet these are far outnumbered by sources written by employers, journalists, and clergymen, who offer markedly skewed accounts of domestic works. The biases incorporated in sources written by those with racial, class, and gender privileges, however, provide unique insights about a form of stigmatize labor and those who perform it." (p400)

Phillips, D.T. (2013). Moving with the Women: Tracing racialization, migration, and domestic workers in the archive. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 38(2). 379-404.

Avoiding Bias with Grey Literature

Avoiding Bias with Grey Literature

Finding research without bias can be difficult sometimes. Using grey literature helps make sure every "voice" is heard.


“In gender and sexuality studies, publication bias is the tendency for the voices of certain groups to have been excluded from mainstream publication during certain periods due to gender, sexual identity, race or social status. This exclusion means that it is sometimes necessary to go to grey literature to find these excluded voices.”

Deakin University. (2023, October, 11). Gender and Sexuality Studies: Grey literature. Libguide. Retrieved October 26, 2023, from


"Publication bias is a reporting bias. Many researchers have shown that those studies with significant, positive, results have a better chance of being published, are published earlier, are published in journals with higher impact factors, and are easier to find.  Conclusions exclusively based on published studies, therefore, can be misleading.  Including grey literature has been proposed as one method to reduce publication bias."

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). (2024). Grey Literature in Health Sciences: Bias. UAB Libraries. Retrieved March 21, 2024 from