Influence seekers: The production of grey literature for policy and practice
8 January 2018
Public policy 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 – sometimes referred to as ‘grey literature’ as it is produced outside of the commercial or scholarly publishing industry. Grey literature production has proliferated in the digital era, becoming a key tool in influencing public debate and part of the evidence-base for public policy and practice, yet it is often overlooked as a form of scholarly publishing. This paper looks at the way organisations produce, publish and disseminate policy resources and seeks to uncover the hidden revolution occurring in the dissemination of knowledge and evidence. The findings indicate that organisations are making a large investment in time and resources, often paid for through public funds, to produce an extensive array of content on a regular basis with the aim of influencing and informing policy decisions. It is estimated that grey literature production could be worth over US$22 billion per year and yet much of this value is lost due to highly variable publishing practices and lack of long term management, with significant consequences for discovery, access and collection as well as public value and transparency.