Assessing the diffusion and impact of grey literature published by international intergovernmental scientific groups: the case of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment

Citation: 

MacDonald, B. H., Cordes, R. E. & Wells, P. G. (2007). Assessing the diffusion and impact of grey literature published by international intergovernmental scientific groups: the case of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. Publishing Resources Quarterly, 23, 30–46.

Abstract: 

Although many governmental and intergovernmental organizations publish vast quantities of grey literature, the importance of the diffusion and impact of this literature are rarely studied. Evidence from an investigation of the grey literature output of GESAMP, the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (sponsored by the UN and several of the UN-family of organizations), indicated that the literature reached scientific readers and was cited. To determine whether that evidence was representative of international intergovernmental bodies, another intergovernmental organization devoted to marine environmental issues, namely, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (GOMC) was studied. GOMC, an American-Canadian partnership, has been working since 1989 to maintain and enhance environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine. Through its own publications and others resulting from studies conducted under contract or in cooperation with other organizations, GOMC provides a complex publishing history for investigation. Over 300 publications were identified and over 500 citations were located after extensive searching using several citation tools. Citation patterns for GOMC publications mirror the findings of the study of GESAMP; grey literature is cited over lengthy periods, but grey literature tends to be cited primarily by other grey literature. Although digital alerting and access tools are increasing in number and coverage, a reliance on grey literature as the primary means of publication continues to pose hurdles for influencing scientific research, public policy, and public opinion. While grey literature is common to organizations such as GOMC and GESAMP, the impact of this literature can be muted because of the limitations of its dissemination and perceptions of its quality.

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