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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.

Consider the Source and Verify your Resources

The hallmark of grey literature is that it hasn't gone through the channels to be "peer-reviewed." While this makes for an opportunity that provides for a substantial amount of resources coming from a variety of sources, verifying those sources for credibility lays in your court. Extra steps must be taken to insure you are adding reliable sources to your research, in order for it to add to your scholarship, not damage by questionable inclusions into your research.

Here are some suggestions from Grace Liu, Amy Pajewski, and Rachel M. McMullin, librarians and professors from the West Chester University (WCU)’s FHG Library, on how to critically look at resources you intend to use:

Step 1. Check and Identify: Get the First Impression

  • URL: Is the source recognizable or reputable? What is the domain name of the website (.gov, .edu, .org, .com, etc.)?
  • Date: When was the article written or updated? What time period is covered by the content?
  • Author: Is there an author? Is it a person or an organization?
  • About page: Does the website have an “About Us” page that describes who they are?
  • Links/citations to sources: Are there links or citations to other sources? Does it link to an internal or an external source?
  • Layout: Does it provide easy navigation? Does it contain too many distractions?

Step 2. Investigate and Discover: Gather More Evidence with the CRAAP Test

  • Currency: Is the article out of date for my topic? Can I find more current information?
  • Relevance: Does the content relate to my topic or answer my question? Is the source appropriate for research purposes?
  • Authority: Does the author(s) have education or experience that makes them an expert on this topic?
  • Accuracy: Is the information accurate? Where does it come from? Can I verify it with a source? Is the article under peer review or editorial review?
  • Purpose: What is the purpose of the website? What potential biases does it have?

Step 3. Read and Think: Use Lateral Reading and Critical Thinking Skills

  • Consult diverse sources: Have I looked at a variety of sources? Have I compared different perspectives?
  • Personal stories versus broader research: Is the source based on anecdotes or research? Is the research method valid and reliable? Who funds the research and what are their views and interest?
  • Logical reasoning versus fallacies: Are the arguments convincing? Does the evidence support the conclusion? Does it contain over-generalizations?
  • Track evidence: Have I followed upstream and downstream sources (backward and forward citations) to gather all evidence? Can I reconcile the differences and form my own opinions?

Step 4. Reflect and Practice: Apply Metacognitive Skills and Reflective Practice

  • Pierce the filter bubbles: Am I surrounded by sources with the same views? Have I searched the other side of the story with opposite or neutral search terms?
  • Examine our own biases: Have I brought my own biases into source evaluation? Have I weighed the reasons from both sides? Do I favor this source because it affirms my belief?
  • Climb down the ladder of inference: Have I added personal or cultural meaning to understand the content? Are my assumptions or prior knowledge questionable? Have I come to the conclusion too quickly?
  • Practice what we learn: Have I applied the source evaluation strategies in real life? Am I aware of my own biases and cognitive limitations? Have I kept an open mind when forming my beliefs? Have I realized that a simple fact can be disruptive and suspend my judgment until I see the big picture?

From the article, Evaluating Online Sources: Introducing a 4-step strategy (2024):


CRAAP Method for Evaluating Resources

One way to verify information you are using is to use the CRAAP method:






Seeing who created the resource and their intentions is important to think about when deciding to use a resource in your research. Consider the following when you make those choices: