Websites, theses, standards and codes

Primary sources: websites, theses, standards and codes

Websites, discussion forums and lists

You will find a lot of information online, but you should be careful as most websites are not quality assessed or peer-reviewed, and anyone can publish on the internet. It is important to assess the information on websites carefully. A good place to start is your library subject guide which contains links to good quality sites.

Other internet sources include discussion lists where experts in particular fields discuss current events or issues affecting their work. Once you have registered with a discussion list you can post questions so you may be able to get in touch with people who can assist you in further research.

The main academic based discussion list service in the UK is called JISCmail. You will find that many professional organisations and societies provide discussion forums which can be a source of useful information.


MSc and PhD theses are a type of grey literature as they are unpublished works. PhD theses will be original research, and as such, a primary source. MSc theses may include some original research, but less so than PhD theses. They are an important source of primary material as they provide:

  • detailed information about research
  • state of the art reviews
  • comprehensive lists of references

The Library holds copies of a small selection of PhD theses completed at Glasgow Caledonian University. You can search for them using Discover. We now make newer ones available online on EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) from the British Library.

Standards and codes

These are usually instructions, for example, on what equipment or machinery to use, and are often written by national bodies in consultation with relevant experts and professionals. There are also international and European codes for business and related areas. The British Standards Institution is the UK national body for standards, and has an online service where you can find UK, international and European standards. You can find Information about standards from: