Value of Grey Literature
to Scholarly Research
in the Digital Age
Richard Huffine
National Library Coordinator
U.S. Geolog...
Definition
 By its broadest definition, grey literature is a
body of materials that cannot be found easily
through conven...
Definition (continued)
 Reputation is the key. Once you find
something, whether you can trust the source
remains an impor...
Digital Age Impacts
 The digital age has thrown the definition of
"published" into chaos. Non-publishers can
produce vali...
Value of Grey Literature
 The first step in scientific research is a
comprehensive literature review.
 That step can be ...
Findability Today
 The identification of published literature
today is easy:
 Publishers give metadata away
 Aggregator...
Findability and Grey Literature
 Without a conventional publisher, findability
for grey literature relies on a variety of...
Copyright and Grey Literature
 Copyright can be even more complex with
grey literature. Some creators want their
material...
Grey Literature has its Place
 Grey literature may not stand alone but it can
contribute substantively to understanding
s...
Grey Literature is Here to Stay
 Its value will always be a mixed bag
 There are risks involved in citing grey
literatur...
The Future of Grey
 A new analogy is needed for literature that
runs the spectrum of validity and findability
 The commu...
Comments and Discussion
Richard Huffine
National Library Coordinator
U.S. Geological Survey
rhuffine@usgs.gov
703-648-7182
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Value of Grey literature to scholarly research in the digital age

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presented at the Elsevier customer event, Special Libraries Association Annual Conferece in New Orleans, LA, 2010.

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Value of Grey literature to scholarly research in the digital age

  1. 1. Value of Grey Literature to Scholarly Research in the Digital Age Richard Huffine National Library Coordinator U.S. Geological Survey June 15, 2010
  2. 2. Definition  By its broadest definition, grey literature is a body of materials that cannot be found easily through conventional channels such as publishers. Can include:  government research  non-profit reports  think tank assessments  reports from observations, investigations, and other primary resource materials  Today, findability is no longer the driving challenge.
  3. 3. Definition (continued)  Reputation is the key. Once you find something, whether you can trust the source remains an important consideration  Some of the factors in that trust today include:  Peer review (professional integrity)  Persistence of access (citability), and  availability of metadata (identification)  All are factors necessary to evaluate the validity of research today
  4. 4. Digital Age Impacts  The digital age has thrown the definition of "published" into chaos. Non-publishers can produce valid research and publishers can release invalid research just as easily.  Some "new" sources of grey literature:  pre-prints, blogs, “front matter”  preliminary research results (open files)  Project Web sites  Institutional Repositories (IRs), data archives
  5. 5. Value of Grey Literature  The first step in scientific research is a comprehensive literature review.  That step can be repeated multiple times during a research effort.  It is an iterative process to identify information necessary for the project and to ensure that they build upon the work of others.  That process has to include grey literature as some primary sources are inherently grey. Those can include records, archives, data, filed notes, observations, data.
  6. 6. Findability Today  The identification of published literature today is easy:  Publishers give metadata away  Aggregators then sell it as structured products  OCLC collects descriptions provided by publishers, libraries, etc.  The challenge is the granularity of description  Books, chapters; journal issues, articles; figures, images, data, supplementary material
  7. 7. Findability and Grey Literature  Without a conventional publisher, findability for grey literature relies on a variety of sources:  As cited references in journal articles  Within library collections  Within institutional repositories, and  in authors CVs  Good aggregators seek it out (very few today)  These sources are usually not authoritative and rarely complete
  8. 8. Copyright and Grey Literature  Copyright can be even more complex with grey literature. Some creators want their material used.  Some sources are inherently in the public domain like materials from the U.S. Federal Government  If unknown, copyright should be assumed. Both authors and the organizations they work for can claim copyright of works  Creative Commons licenses are being used within some domains
  9. 9. Grey Literature has its Place  Grey literature may not stand alone but it can contribute substantively to understanding scientific challenges  Every source should be considered in the exploration of an issue  In some domains, the best source of information may be grey  Some grey literature goes through as stringent (or more) of a review as commercially published content
  10. 10. Grey Literature is Here to Stay  Its value will always be a mixed bag  There are risks involved in citing grey literature - those risks exist with commercially published literature as well, to a lesser extent  Libraries need to continue to be involved in identifying it and defining its value  Social tagging could be used to help people assess the validity of grey literature
  11. 11. The Future of Grey  A new analogy is needed for literature that runs the spectrum of validity and findability  The community should be able to contribute to validating grey literature  (and disputing the validity of some invalid published literature)  Libraries should play a role in providing persistence for valid grey literature
  12. 12. Comments and Discussion Richard Huffine National Library Coordinator U.S. Geological Survey rhuffine@usgs.gov 703-648-7182

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