Grey literature – a valuable source of information for science and research

21st International Conference on Grey Literature: Experts discuss grey literature in Hannover

What influence does the Open Access movement have on grey literature and what new forms of grey literature are created by Open Access? These and other questions were the focus of the 21st International Conference of Grey Literature (GL21) on 22 and 23 October 2019 in Hannover under the motto "Open Science Encompasses New Forms of Grey Literature". More than 50 international experts spent two days discussing grey literature at the conference organised by the TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology – on publications that are not available via bookseller and are therefore often difficult to obtain. Grey literature contains valuable knowledge and is an important source of information for science and research. It occurs in many different forms, such as conference and research reports, but also university theses, patents specifications and standards.

Book Sprints as a collaborative form of knowledge production

After the welcome by TIB Director Prof. Dr. Sören Auer, Barbara Rühling, Managing Director of Book Sprints, opened the GL21 with the keynote speech "Unbreaking our Knowledge Sharing Workflows".

During a Book Sprint, several experts collaboratively write a book on a topic within a few days. According to Rühling, who has run many Book Sprints herself, the Book Sprints often deal with "niche topics or very complex topics for which no publisher can be found so easily". The resulting books – a relatively young form of grey literature – are then usually printed on their own or made available online for download. Book sprints as a collaborative form of knowledge production are a good way to write a book in a short time. "Book sprints are created in rapid processes, and publishers need much longer," says Rühling.

The 15 lectures of the two-day conference dealt with digitisation and digital transformation and their influence on grey literature, the application of open science principles for grey literature, solutions to the challenges of Open Access and free training materials for libraries and information science. The TIB presented the ConfIDent project, which aims to develop a conference platform on which the metadata of scientific events can be made permanently accessible and made available in the highest possible quality through automated processes and specialist curating.

The session "The Open Science Publishing Flood and Collaborative Authoring" brought together users and manufacturers of platforms and online tools. The potential of platforms or tools such as GitHub Jupyter or Etherpad was presented, and requirements were identified that users have in their daily work that have not yet been met – such as Open Access publications or collaborative work.

In addition to the lectures, there was also a poster session. This year's "Conference Poster Prize" for the best poster went to the poster "E-LIS between old and new forms of Grey Literature" by Antonella De Robbio, Imma Subirats, Alfredo Cosco (all E-LIS ePrints for Library and Information Science), Christian Vidal-Cabo and Fernanda Peset (Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain).

The 22nd International Conference on Grey Literature will take place on 19 and 20 November 2020 at the Italian National Research Council in Rome.