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Grey Literature: Evaluate Grey Literature

Why Do You Need to Evaluate Grey Literature?

Google can be a good search tool for research, if used properly, but keep in mind that Google retrieves web pages indiscriminately.  As a result:

  • There can be many irrelevant results in a Google search that makes it difficult to identify grey literature (See Google Tips & Tricks).
  • It is often difficult to determine the credibility of grey literature sources because the document may be missing important citation information (e.g. authors, date). (See Cite it Right)
  • Grey literature may not have undergone a review or editing process so there may be issues with the reliability or quality of the source.

Learning how to evaluate grey literature to determine when it is or is not appropriate to use certain content will be an incredibly important skill for you to learn during your time here at Sheridan College.

Learn More...

Want to learn more about evaluating online sources? There are a few resources to get you started:

How Do You Evaluate Grey Literature?

Here are a few things to consider when you evaluate web sources:

CURRENCY

  • How current is the information? Is the information current enough for YOUR topic?
  • When was the page created, or last updated?
  • Is there a copyright date on the page?

RELEVANCY

  • Is the information relevant to your topic?
  • Who is the target audience for this website. Children? Consumers? Students? Scientists?

AUTHORITY

  • Who created the site or the page? Is it an individual, a corporation, an organization or association?
  • What does the website domain tell you? (e.g. .com, .org, .edu, .gov)
  • What do you know about the creator of the website? Are they credible and reputable?
  • Are there ads on the site? If so, do the ads relate at all to the content of the website?

ACCURACY

  • Are sources or references given to support the information or evidence provided?
  • Are there spelling or grammar errors?
  • What information is provided about the author and his or her credentials, experience or education?
  • Can you find similar or the same information in other credible sources?

PURPOSE

  • Is the information provided factual only, or is it opinion or biased?
  • Is the website trying to sell you something, or persuade you to a particular point of view?