Gray literature refers to information which is not conventionally published (as books or journal articles, for example). Often such literature lacks a formal publisher, making it difficult to find through library databases. Gray literature includes theses and dissertations, conference papers, government publications, and industry white papers.
A white paper is an authoritative and detailed report often, but not always, issued by businesses or government agencies. White papers help readers understand issues and the policies meant to address them. In business, white papers sometimes take the form of marketing presentations.
Gray literature ma provide you with salient and important information on a topic, including industry statistics, company performance, business strategy, market analysis, and more.
One way to locate gray literature is to identify organizations that represent or lobby on behalf of the company or industry you're researching. For instance, if you're looking for information on the outdoor recreation industry, you could google that phrase, which directs us to the
Once you've found a trade group like AORE, look for a 'Resources' or 'Publications' tab like this one:
Among other freely-available AORE publications is the group's annual report, which explains what "AORE has accomplished in a specific year, why we do what we do, and the impact we have on the outdoor recreation and education community."
Caveat lector! How should we treat information from such sources? How might AORE report a downturn in outdoor recreation spending, for example?