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Research impact for Education: a self-help guide

Tracking grey literature


Grey literature is heavily used and highly valued.

Policy grey literature is often paid for by public funds.

  1. The most important reason to produce material for more than 90% of organisations is to contribute to the evidence base and inform public policy.
  2. Other aims are to translate knowledge for public use (84%), and to maximise public access to research and information (79%). 

The most prominent or crucial resources used [by policy workers] are reports (81%), journal articles (75%), discussion papers (69%), briefings, reviews and guides (66%), and data sets (61%). **Houghton, L.A., Thomas, J., & Weldon, P. (2014). Where is the evidence: Realising the value of grey literature for public policy and practice. Melbourne: Swinburne Institute for Social Research. Retrieved from **


Sources for tracking evidence of impact of non-traditional works


To track prominent reports (government or technical), working papers, research briefs or other grey literature, use these sources to supplement data from Web of Science (SSCI), Scopus, Google Scholar and now Altmetric for institutions.

Report case study 1

A prominent report focus on 'Analysis of equity groups in Higher Education 1991-2002'. I already know that, to date, the report has accumulated 132 citations via Google Scholar. I am sure there are other types of evidence I can produce to demonstrate the broad and varied impact of this report...? 


Sources used:


1. Capital Monitor search

  • This is a commercial service for Australia providing primary source federal and state government material.
  • Capital Monitor provides full coverage of information/documents for federal, state and territory Parliaments, government departments, agencies, courts and key stakeholders in public policy, including industry, associations and not-for-profits.
  • Most documents available in the database are available in full text.
  • It is a very useful resource to help demonstrate impact of grey literature such as commissioned reports and document reports.
  • Analyse each instance of possible impact further to see what is said about the value of the research output in the context of the decision making process/ policy setting


Step 1: Search


Search Capital monitor using the search words in a phrase


Step 2: Display all references


Capital monitor display all research results


Step 3: Display Hansards


Capital Monitor - display Hansard only


Step 4: Display Bills/Legislation

Capital Monitor - display legislation/billsCapital Monitor - display legislation/bills


2. Web of Science (Cited Reference search)


A note about 'cited reference searching':

Through a cited reference search, you can discover how a known idea or innovation has been confirmed, applied, improved, extended, or corrected. Discover who’s citing your research and the impact your work is having on other researchers in the world.

In the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, cited reference searching enables you to find articles that refer to and/or include an illustration of a work of art or a music score. These references are called implicit citations.


Step 1 - Cited reference search



Step 2 - Cited reference display screen



Step 3 - Cited reference viewed



3. Dimensions search


Dimensions is a Next-generation Research and Discovery Platform Linking 124 Million Documents and brought to researchers by a UOM subscription to the full package including references to publications, grants, patents, clinical trails, as well as policy documents linked to global research outputs.

A search by the report title in full text (full data) may expose additional publications and policy documents referencing this work. [Press the carriage return to start the search].


Step 1 - Dimensions phrase search for publication title in full data


dimensions search by report title


Step 2 - results of linked publications, grants, patents, clinical trials, policy documents


Dimensions search result for report title


Filter either to publications, grants, patents, clinical trials, policy documents to unpack/analyse the various categories of relationships and impacts. Use Analytical views to explore on micro-level and to draw on many available visualisations. These can be downloaded as .jpeg or .png if needed.



Report case study 2

A report commissioned by the Analysis and Equity Branch of the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, and published in the year 2000, 'Factors influencing the educational performance of males and females in school and their initial destinations after leaving school' was cited 467 times via Google Scholar to date. What other sources can I use to provide evidence of the kinds of impact of this output?


Sources used:


1. Capital Monitor Search


Follow the steps as set out in report case study 1.

2. FACTIVA search


  • University of Melbourne provides access to 10 concurrent UOM users. Please logout at the end of your session.
  • For additional information regarding accessing news articles (or media attention to your research), see the Finding News subject guide.

After accessing Factiva, switch to the 'Search form' view.


Step 1: Searching Factiva


Factiva search for your publication to review media attention


Step 2: Displaying the results for your Factiva search


Factiva search result display to locate media attention to your work

3. ProQuest Central search


To include content from International Newsstream collections and to find potential media attention to your research outputs, access Proquest Central, which also features a highly-respected, diversified mix of content including scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines, books, newspapers, reports and videos.


Step 1: Searching ProQuest Central


Proquest Central search for results mentioning research output


Step 2: Displaying results from ProQuest Central


Proquest central result display of items potentially mentioning research output


Step 3: Analyse and document relevant result sample from main result set


4. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global search


  • For additional information regarding accessing Theses (that references your work), see the Finding Theses subject guide.


Step 1: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses global search for references to the research output


Proquest Dissertations and Theses search for results mentioning research output


Step 2: Displaying results from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global


Proquest Dissertations and These result display of items potentially mentioning research output

5. Google search focused to


Step 1: Google search for sites referencing the research output


Enter the search in the following format:

"factors influencing the educational performance of males and females in school"


Google search entry


Step 2 - results of possible sites where the report is referenced


Google search by educational site result list


Step 3 - linking into documents or sites to evaluate further


Google search by educational site following page result


Step 4 - opening a document and run a search to establish the context


Link out from Google search to individual page to verify context of citation


***After opening a link to a document or web page, use the (CTRL + F) feature to allow isolating specific words or phrases in the text.


6. Google search focused to


Step 1: Google search for sites referencing the research output

Enter the search in the following format:

"factors influencing the educational performance of males and females in school"

Step 1

Step 2

7. A+ Education (Informit) search


Because the database provides access to unique content - including journal articles, conference papers, theses, government reports, discussion papers and book chapters - many of which are unavailable electronically elsewhere - it provides an additional way of discovery of literature (often grey literature too) that cites grey literature in the context of the research covered.


Step 1: Search A+ Education using the available fields and features



Step 2: Display the A+ Education search result 



Step 3: Go into the full text of selected items



** This is done to confirm that the source is indeed listing the work in its reference list. On opening the PDF of the item use the 'CTRL + F' feature and type in the first words of the title to confirm the source should be included in the manually produced metric [citation count] **


Additional ways to track impact of grey literature

  • Wikipedia citations
  • Google search: - focus your search to either or
  • Figshare statistics
  • Research Data Australia statistics
  • GitHub statistics
  • The Conversation dashboard of statistics
  • Pursuit dashboard of statistics
  • Minerva Access statistics
  • Subject repository statistics
  • PlumX statistics
  • CrossRef statistics
  • Google analytics for your site
  • Altmetric badges