Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises


Unpublished documents

core definition

An unublished document is one that is not publicly available, either freely or at a cost.

explanatory context

Documents may be unpublished because they are not intended for the public domain and may be targetted at a specific private audience (sometimes referred to as grey literature) or they may be unpublished despite being aimed at a public audience because no publisher will accept the document for publication.


With the advent of the Internet and the possibility to self-publish or post on blog sites, it is rare that a document will remain 'unpublished' if aimed at a public audience.


There is though a residual but fading distinction between formally published, with an ISBN or ISSN number for example, and publication without, via self publication of some form.

analytical review

APA (2002):

Unpublished refers to any information source that is not officially released by an individual, publishing house, or other company, and can include both paper and electronic sources. Some examples of unpublished sources may include manuscripts accepted for publication but still "in-press," data from an unpublished study, letters, manuscripts in preparation, memos, personal communications (including e-mails), and raw data.

associated issues


related areas

See also

grey literature

published documents

Researching the Real World Section


APA, 2002, 'APA Reference Style: Unpublished Sources', last updated 17 October 2002, available at, accessed 10 May 2013, still available 15 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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