Critically Endangered small

Semi-published research outputs such as blogs, dissertations, informal conference papers or commissioned reports which are not formally published but which can contain original and insightful contributions within scholarly communications

Group: Research Outputs

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Trend towards reduced risk

Previous classification: Critically Endangered

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.

Examples

Blogs, technical reports, conference papers, dissertations, commercial research

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Originating researcher no longer active or changed research focus; staff on temporary contracts; dependence on single student or staff member; weak or fluid institutional commitment to subject matter; weak institutional commitment to data sharing; complicated or contested intellectual property; encryption; Lack of recognition; non-disclosure agreements;

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Use of persistent identifiers; embedded within repository infrastructure; quality assurance

2021 Review

This entry was introduced in 2017 under ‘Research Data’, though without explicit reference to grey literature. In 2019, the Jury split this entry into a range of contexts for research outputs. This entry represents activities which build towards formal publications and research outputs but which do not typically accumulate in institutional repositories.  The 2021 Jury agreed with that splitting and classification of this entry; however there was a significant difference between the 2020 trend and 2021 trend. The 2020 Jury noted a trend towards greater risk because higher education and research institutions faced budget uncertainties and a number of institutions have introduced early severance schemes or put staff on short term contracts at greater risk of redundancy; While this puts other types of research output at risk, the ad hoc nature of grey literature means that this entry is at greater risk. Members of the 2021 Jury argued the content of grey literature is not entirely unique if it eventually makes its way into published outputs, and noted improvements and initiatives towards preservation of semi-published research data and outputs over the last year, resulting in consensus of a 2021 trend towards reduced risk.

Additional Jury Comments

This is why it is called grey literature - it is the same in the analogue world - publications come and disappear.

Loss of material like this would be common in the analogue world, but in the digital age, we have the capacity and perhaps something of a responsibility to ensure that it is captured: more of an opportunity lost to extend the available research resource. The ADS’s Grey Literature Library demonstrates what could be done if information architectures are deployed to mirror and extend professional practice.

Workflows and policies re tagging, collecting and EDRMS may help protect such data into the future. Past materials are almost certainly partially lost. 


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