The Environmental Information: Use and Influence (EIUI) research team’s new paper “Tracking the influence of grey literature in public policy contexts: The necessity and benefits of interdisciplinary research has been published in The Grey Journal (vol. 9, no. 2, 2013). As this paper notes: “The necessity of interdisciplinary investigation becomes clear when the complexity of the science-policy interface is described. Tracking the movement and use of grey literature in this context poses challenges in framing research questions, determining what data to collect, deciding which methodologies or suite of methodologies must be developed or adopted, and gaining access and establishing the trust of numerous stakeholders to undertake research within the ambit of governmental organizations. All the while, there is appreciation that many dimensions of personality, culture, economics, politics, and social factors contribute to the processes of decision making and policy development. The magnitude and variation of these components outstrip the capacity of expert understanding of any single discipline. Quite simply, interdisciplinary is required.” Encompassing the disciplines of Information Management, Marine Environmental Science, Governance and Public Administration, Marine Policy, and Fisheries Management, the interdisciplinary EIUI research team is in a unique position, opening new avenues of research on the awareness, use, and influence of information published as grey literature in governmental and intergovernmental arenas.
Scientific information (much of it published as grey literature) can play a pivotal role in the search for solutions to serious global environmental problems. This fact is receiving growing attention by a diversity of researchers. How information functions within the interface between science and policy is only weakly understood, in part because most studies have been conducted through single disciplinary lenses. Moreover, determining the life cycles of scientific information and developing an understanding of the use and influence of this information are not trivial tasks. We believe that an appreciable increase in understanding can be achieved through an interdisciplinary perspective and a comparative approach employing a suite of research methodologies to document information pathways. In our research particularly (see www.eiui.ca), we contend that interdisciplinary research, drawing on “information science and management,” “marine environmental science,” “marine policy development,” “fisheries science and management,” and “public policy,” can substantially increase understanding of the processes by which scientific information is incorporated into environmental policy decisions. This innovative, evolving interdisciplinary perspective enables addressing the question “what role and influence does grey literature have in marine environmental policy and decision-making processes” in an informative, holistic manner, which may be otherwise unfeasible. This paper shows that multidimensional thinking and analysis stimulated by an interdisciplinary perspective is essential for further understanding of the role of information at the science-policy interface in marine disciplines.