31 Popular Sources and Grey Literature

In addition to scholarly sources, popular sources and grey literature are other types of information that you may review and consider using in your writing. See Table 3.3.

Table 3.3: Other sources of information

Type Examples When to use
Popular sources

Popular sources are intended for a more general audience and range from entertainment magazines to well-researched investigative articles from the New York Times. These sources usually do not have a specific structure and rarely contain references. With most scholarly sources, you can rely on the peer-review process to evaluate the authority and credibility of the research presented to you. With popular sources, it is up to you to determine whether the source is appropriate for your own research.

The New York Times

Scrubs Magazine

The Wall Street Journal

Nursing blogs

The Economist

Use of these sources will depend on the purpose of your writing or your assignment and whether you are permitted to use popular sources. Sources such as magazines and newspapers are very useful for current commentary on a topic or issue. However, you should be aware that some newspapers, blogs, and non-government organizations, such as policy think-tanks, have specific political viewpoints. It is up to you to evaluate whether or not it is appropriate to use a popular source in your assignment.

Grey literature

Grey literature are sources of information that are not published through traditional means and are often not peer reviewed. These are typically excluded from databases, making the information difficult to locate. The best way to locate it is often through Google searches and consulting experts in the field.

Reports from and websites such as Health Canada, World Health Organization, College of Nurses of Ontario, as well as speeches and newsletters.

These types of sources can be useful to provide current information. Credible websites such as Health Canada can provide current statistics.


Popular sources and grey literature may be appropriate to combine with the peer-reviewed literature that you have reviewed depending on your purpose. To further understand what grey literature is and how to locate it, see Film Clip 3.2.


Film Clip 3.2: Locating Grey Literature [2:39]

Activities: Check Your Understanding




Attribution statement

Content on popular sources was adapted from with editorial changes:

Write Here, Right Now by Dr. Paul Chafe, Aaron Tucker with chapters from Dr. Kari Maaren, Dr. Martha Adante, Val Lem, Trina Grover and Kelly Dermody, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Download this book for free at: https://pressbooks.library.ryerson.ca/writehere/


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Scholarship of Writing in Nursing Education: 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; Andy Tan; Arina Bogdan; Frances Dimaranan; Rachel Frantzke; and Nada Savicevic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book