Grey Literature: Use, Creation, and Citation Habits of Faculty Researchers across Disciplines

Authors : Kristen Cooper, Wanda Marsolek, Amy Riegelman, Shannon Farrell, Julie Kelly


Grey literature is ephemeral, and the level to which it is created, used, and cited by faculty, graduate students, and other researchers is not well understood.


This electronic survey was distributed to a sample (57%) of the faculty across a wide variety of disciplines with the only criteria based on tenure and tenure-track faculty at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, a large R1 institution.


Faculty across disciplines both use and create grey literature for several reasons, including its far more rapid Faculty across disciplines both use and create grey literature for several reasons, including its far more rapid publication process.


Many faculty in a wide variety of disciplines are using and creating grey literature. The survey illustrates the different types of grey literature that are being used and for what purpose.

Other topics, such as how faculty are finding grey literature (via Google Scholar and professional contacts), whether they are citing it, and which types they create (e.g., conference papers, preprints, technical reports) are also discussed.


As a result of this survey, librarians can provide support for faculty who use and create grey literature in all disciplines and advocate for and promote grey literature to faculty. With more scholars participating in systematic reviews of grey literature, librarians will need to be more cognizant of where and how it may be discovered.

URL : Grey Literature: Use, Creation, and Citation Habits of Faculty Researchers across Disciplines


What about ODTs? Are they grey?

Authors : Joachim Schöpfel, Snjezana Cirkovic, Hélène Prost

The term of grey literature is sometimes applied for older material and special collections, especially in the field of digitization projects of scientific heritage.

The following paper will analyse this term of “grey scientific heritage” and, based on empirical and conceptual elements, contribute to a better understanding of grey literature. Special attention will be paid on older theses and dissertations (OTDs), as a main part of scientific heritage especially from universities.


The Types, Frequencies, and Findability of Disciplinary Grey Literature within Prominent Subject Databases and Academic Institutional Repositories

Authors: Wanda R Marsolek, Kristen Cooper, Shannon L. Farrell, Julia A. Kelly


In many disciplines grey literature, or works that are more ephemeral in nature and are not typically published through traditional scholarly channels, are heavily used alongside traditional materials and sources.

We were interested in the type and frequency of grey literature in subject databases and in North American institutional repositories (IRs) as well as what disciplines use grey literature.


Over 100 subject databases utilized by academic researchers and the IRs of over 100 academic institutions were studied. Document type, search capabilities, and level of curation were noted. RESULTS Grey literature was present in the majority (68%) of the literature databases and almost all IRs (95%) contained grey literature.


Grey literature was present in the subject databases across all broad disciplines including arts and humanities. In these resources the most common types of grey literature were conference papers, technical reports, and theses and dissertations. The findability of the grey literature in IRs varied widely as did evidence of active collection development.


Recommendations include the development of consistent metadata standards for grey literature to enhance searching within individual resources as well as supporting future interoperability. An increased level of collection development of grey literature in institutional repositories would facilitate preservation and increase the findability and reach of grey literature.

URL : The Types, Frequencies, and Findability of Disciplinary Grey Literature within Prominent Subject Databases and Academic Institutional Repositories


Grey literature publishing in public policy: production and management, costs and benefits

Author : Amanda Lawrence

Public policy and practice, and policy research, relies on diverse forms and types of information and communication, both traditional publications and a myriad of other documents and resources including reports, briefings, legislation, discussion papers, submissions and evaluations and much more.sci

This is sometimes referred to as ‘grey literature’, a collective term for the wide range of publications produced and published directly by organisations, either in print or digitally, outside of the commercial or scholarly publishing industry.

In the digital era grey literature has proliferated, and has become a key tool in influencing public debate and in providing an evidence-base for public policy and practice. Despite its ubiquity and influence, grey literature’s role is often overlooked as a publishing phenomenon, ignored both in scholarly research on media and communications and in the debate on the changing nature of open access and academic publishing.

This paper looks at the production of grey literature for public policy and practice where the changes enabled by computers and the internet are causing a hidden revolution in the dissemination of knowledge and evidence.

It explores the production, dissemination and management of publications by organizations, their nature, purpose and value, and investigates the benefits and the challenges of publishing outside of the commercial or scholarly publishing enterprises.

The paper provides estimates of the economic value of grey literature based on online surveys and valuations and considers the costs and benefits of self-publishing by organisations which provides both a dynamic, flexible and responsive publishing system and one in which link rot, duplication and highly varying standards abound.

The findings are part of a broader research project looking at role and value of grey literature for policy and practice including consumption, production and collection.

It will be of interest to a wide range of policy makers and practitioners as well as academics working in media and communications, public administration and library and information management.

URL : Grey literature publishing in public policy: production and management, costs and benefits

Alternative location :

Processus de diffusion des mémoires de Master. Littérature grise et accessibilité : un enjeu majeur dans le domaine de la Recherche. Étude de cas : projet MemorySID

Auteur/Author : Sylvain Vanacker

Ce mémoire a été élaboré à la suite d’un stage ayant eu lieu à l’Atelier National de Reproduction de Thèses de Villeneuve d’Ascq. Il s’agit d’une étude de cas concernant le Projet MemorySID et s’intéressant aux processus de traitement et de diffusion de mémoires de stage d’étudiants de Master en Sciences de l’Information et de la Documentation.

L’environnement de travail y est décrit ainsi que les missions confiées et la méthodologie mise en place. Ce mémoire de stage évoque les phases d’indexation et de vérification des méta-données de mémoires sur la plate-forme Nuxeo ainsi que les étapes de diffusion dans l’ENT de Lille 3 et en Libre Accès dans l’archive ouverte DUMAS.

Enfin, une analyse étudiant l’impact et l’importance qu’engendre l’accès aux mémoires de Master et à la Littérature Grise dans le domaine de la Recherche complète ce mémoire et permet de s’interroger sur l’intérêt de cette démarche.



Altmetrics and Grey Literature: Perspectives and Challenges

Authors : Joachim Schöpfel, Hélène Prost

Traditional metrics largely overlook grey literature. The new altmetrics introduced in 2010 as ” new, online scholarly tools (that allow) to make new filters ” (Altmetrics Manifesto), can include all kinds of scholarly output which makes them interesting for grey literature.

The topic of our paper is the connection between altmetrics and grey literature. Do altmetrics offer new opportunities for the development and impact of grey literature?

In particular, the paper explores how altmetrics could add value to grey literature, in particular how reference managers, repositories, academic search engines and social networks can produce altmetrics of dissertations, reports, conference papers etc.

We explore, too, how new altmetric tools incorporate grey literature as source for impact assessment, and if they do. The discussion analyses the potential but also the limits of the actual application of altmetrics to grey literatures and highlights the importance of unique identifiers, above all the DOI.

For the moment, grey literature missed the opportunity to get on board of the new movement.

However, getting grey literature into the heart of the coming mainstream adoption of altmetrics is not only essential for the future of grey literature in open science but also for academic and institutional control of research output and societal impact.This can be a special mission for academic librarians.


Document Supply of Grey Literature and Open Access: Ten Years Later


The paper aims to investigate the impact of the open access movement on the document supply of grey literature. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a comparative survey of five major scientific and technical information centres: The British Library (UK), KM (Canada), INIST-CNRS (France), KISTI (South Korea) and TIB Hannover (Germany).


The five institutions supplied less than 1.8 million supplied items in 2014, i.e. half of the activity in 2004 (−55 per cent). There were 85,000 grey documents, mainly conference proceedings and reports, i.e. 5 per cent of the overall activity, a historically low level compared to 2004 (−72 per cent). At the same time, they continue to expand their open access strategies. Just as in 2004 and 2008, these strategies are specific, and they reflect institutional and national choices rather than global approaches, with two or three common or comparable projects (PubMed Central, national repositories, attribution of DOIs to datasets, dissertations and other objects). In spite of all differences, their development reveals some common features, like budget cuts, legal barriers (copyright), focus on domestic needs and open access policies to foster dissemination and impact of research results.

Document supply for corporate customers tends to become a business-to-business service, while the delivery for the public sector relies more, than before, on resource sharing and networking with academic and public libraries. Except perhaps for the TIB Hannover, the declining importance of grey literature points towards their changing role – less intermediation, less acquisition and collection development and more high-value services, more dissemination and preservation capacities designed for the scientific community needs (research excellence, open access, data management, etc.).


The paper is a follow-up study of two surveys published in 2006 and 2009.