You will be introduced to a type of literature that is popularly called "gray literature" specifically focusing on reports published by research organizations and government entities. There are some important strategies for discovering these types of materials as well as some important shifts in publishing models you will need to consider. The goal is for you to be able to find 1 to 2 reports that you can use to inform and ground the writing of your Demographic Report and to include in your bibliography.
Once you finished this lesson you will:
In general, gray literature publications are non-conventional, fugitive, and sometimes ephemeral publications. They may include, but are not limited to the following types of materials:
Alberani V, Pietrangeli PDC, Mazza AMR (1990). The use of grey literature in health sciences: a preliminary survey. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 78(4): 358-363.
How do scholarly articles differ from "gray literature"?
Video: Using Statistical Insight to find reports. Statistical Insight is a unique library resource that allows you to discover reports from a vast array of agencies and organizations that allows you to search for information found in statistical tables from this gray literature. This video will demonstrate how to find reports by showing you how to:
EL Lesson 4: Using Statistical Insight to Find Reports Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)
Find reports from Interest groups, think tanks and research organizations
General Tip: International government agencies typically publish reports on topics at the country level or for comparison between countries and regions of the world. You will most likely not find reports on your topic at a sub-national level such as counties or individual states from international government organization (IGO) information resources.
Gray literature is one of the most difficult formats to systematically and comprehensively search. In part, this is because there is no single resource that allows you to find all the Gray Literature on a specific topic. The best discovery method for this type of literature is to focus on a specific type. Below are some tips to keep in mind as you use these resources:
Tip One: Keep track of the name of the government agency or research organization.
Generally speaking, it is important to keep track of the names of the organizations as well as the government agencies that you come across as you explore the resources for your topic. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau publishes many of the important demographic reports for the United States as a priority, but more importantly as a legal obligation. Consequently, if you discover an older report on your topic there may be a newer version mounted on their website.
In sum, follow the lead.
Tip Two: Look closely at the source in the statistical tables
Often when you discover a statistical table on your topic, it will cite a source or possibly a report that the table was taken from. Simply do a Google search for the title of the source even if it is dated. There may be a more current report.
Tip Three: Search the correct level of government
There are numerous levels of government that can potentially address your topic. Each with its own legal mandates, geographic limitations and purpose. For example:
If you are trying to find reports about cities and places, don't start with resources that help you find reports from international agencies. Even though you may find some reports for very large cities like London, Paris, or Berlin, moving down the food chain may produce better results. Keep in mind however, that you may encounter some language barriers for countries whose national language you don't know.
Format references to technical and research reports as you would a book.
Author, G.G. (2007). Title of the the publications (Report No. ***). Location: Publisher
Corporate author, government report
U.S. Bureau of Census. (2017). Monthly and Average Monthly Poverty Rates by Selected Demographic Characteristics: 2013 (Current Population Reports. Series P-70:143 Household Economic Studies). Washington, DC: Government Publishing Office.
Corporate author, task force report filed online
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Conference of Mayors' Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.(2015). Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America's Cities: A 22-City Survey, Dec. 2015. Retrieved from https://www.usmayors.org.
Authored report, from nongovernmental organization
Van de Water, P., & and Arloc Sherman, A. (2013) Social Security Keeps 21 Million Americans Out of Poverty: A State-by-State Analysis (Report Oct. 16, 2012). Retrieved from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website: https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/10-16-12ss.pdf
Report from institutional archive
Vandell, D., & Wolfe, B. (2000). Child Care Quality: Does It Matter and Does It Need to Be Improved? (Special Report no. 78). Retrieved from University of Wisconsin, Institute for Research on Poverty website: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/sr/pdfs/sr78.pdf
Economic Policy Institute. (2015, November). Child care workers aren't paid enough to make ends meet (Issue Brief 405). Washington, DC: Author.
Tips for citing reports from Statistical Insight
Use these fields from Statistical Insight [Bib Data & Title Info]:
SOURCE. (year). REPORT TITLE, (SERIES TITLE, RECORD NUMBER). Retrieved from DURABLE URL
Bureau of Census. (2017). Monthly and Average Monthly Poverty Rates by Selected Demographic Characteristics: 2013 (Current Population Reports. Series P-70: Household Economic Studies, 2017 ASI 2546-20.143). Retrieved from https://statistical.proquest.com/statisticalinsight/result/pqpresultpage.previewtitle?docType=PQSI&titleUri=%2Fcontent%2F2017%2F2546-20.143.xml
Note: some of the information above particularly headings were from the 6th Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.