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PROJECT TOPIC- AVAILABILITY AND USE OF GREY LITERATURE FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN SOUTH EAST,NIGERIA

PROJECT TOPIC- AVAILABILITY AND USE OF GREY LITERATURE FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN SOUTH EAST,NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

This study was undertaken to find out the availability and use of grey literature for scientific and technological research in university libraries in
south eastern Nigeria. The design of the study was a descriptive survey. Six research questions bothering on extent of availability; use made of
available grey literature; problems affecting the availability; problems affecting the use; strategies for overcoming the problems of availability;
and strategies for enhancing the use of grey literature were formulated to guide the study. The sample consisted of seven (7) university librarians
and two hundred and forty (240) postgraduate researchers in science and technology drawn from seven (7) universities in south eastern Nigeria.
Data was collected using a combination of questionnaire and observation checklist. The data collected were analysed using percentages, mean and
standard deviation. The findings of the study showed that grey literature was marginally available for science and technology research in the libraries; the available grey literature was used to a high extent; the availability of grey literature in the libraries was hindered by such factors as inadequate funds, and absence of library acquisition policies; while the use of grey literature for science and technology research was hindered by difficulty in finding needed materials among others. The findings had implications drawn for the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in designing appropriate policy for the capture, storage, dissemination and use of grey literature; the administrators of the university libraries in Nigeria; the users of scientific and technological literature in the libraries; as well as the staff of the university libraries. Based on these implications, some major recommendations were made. These included the revision of the national policy on scientific and technological information to include measures on grey literature acquisition and use; allocation of adequate funds to university libraries to ensure grey literature availability and the digitization of available grey literature to enhance access to them. 

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

The term, grey literature, came into the professional vocabulary of librarianship about three and half decades ago. Despite this relatively long
history, some librarians and information professionals are yet to be aware of its existence. Others who at all know about it appear confused over its
exact meaning. (Auger,1998). This state of confusion, it seems, has given way to several varied definitions of grey literature. In some attempts to define it, authors have often used equally obscure terms such as semi-published, nonconventional, and elusive (Schmidmaier, 1986; Keenan, 1996).

Others
have become rather simplistic in approach and defined it as that material which is not available through normal book selling channels (Wood,
1982; Auger, 1998). The British library (1994) also viewed it as any document, which is not a book or a journal, or any document (other than a
journal), which will not stand up on the shelves on its own. Further efforts have been made at overcoming the definitional problem of grey literature by listing the materials that fall under it.

This usually included a long list of such items as technical reports, theses and dissertations conference proceedings, preprints, official publications, fact sheets, standards, patents, working papers, business documents, newsletters, symposia, bulletins. Aside from being endless, the list can be equally confusing because, according to the Science and Technology Section (STS), Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee (2003:1), “virtually everything we read outside of journals and books can be considered grey literature”.
However, the list is often broken down into four component categories. The first category is made up of publications issued by pressure groups and similar bodies with special interest. From time to time, such organizations have the need to publish quickly, their funds are limited, and there is no time for the niceties of sales or return and trade discounts. In consequence, sales are achieved by direct mail or through specialist outlets. The second category is made up of privately published materials ranging from small volumes of poetry through carefully researched family and local histories to topical stories presented with a particular point of view.

 The third category, sometimes referred to as alternative literature, consists of materials on topics or perspectives unknown or marginalized in the mainstream of publishing and usually absent from library collections. The fourth category, often called ephemera, consists of materials that carry verbal messages and are produced by printing or illustrative processes but not in a standard book, periodical or pamphlet formats. Most items of ephemera are produced for short-term purposes, e.g. bus tickets, timetables, and posters.
What appears to be an international consensus at defining grey literature emerged at the third International Conference on Grey Literature held in Luxembourg in 1997. The conference defined grey literature as that (information resource) which is produced by government, academics, business and industries, both in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishing interests and where publishing is not the primary activity of the organization. (Aina, 2000: 25). 

Debachere (1995:94-95) has further distinguished between two major groups of grey literature based on content. The first group consists of publications with scientific content: reports of studies, research, meetings, proceedings of conferences and seminars not published by a publishing house, and doctoral dissertations. The second group is made up of unconventional documentary material: in house publications by companies, publications by chambers of commerce and industry, associations, political parties and trade unions, non-administrative statistics; economic letters and correspondence, plans and expertise for development, leaflets, tracts, etc

For the purpose of this study, grey literature is taken to mean the overall body of human knowledge having scientific and technical content but are produced by organizations without commercial publishing interests and without publishing as their primary activity. This includes technical reports, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, patents newsletters and fact sheets. There are many and varied reasons why authors do not use commercial circuits in publishing. Sometimes, as the urgency of the demand for the content requires, authors are deterred by the times taken between the writing of an article and its appearance in a periodical or for a  book.

PROJECT TOPIC- AVAILABILITY AND USE OF GREY LITERATURE FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN SOUTH EAST,NIGERIA

 

At other times, authors think that their report is targeted to a narrow group of specialists and hence may be too long or too short to be treated as a commercial publication. Another important reason is derived from the need to publish inexpensively by utilizing the in-house automation faculties.
In spite of these benefits, grey literature appears to receive lackluster treatment by librarians and information professionals. The major reasons for this are apparent difficulties in identifying, procuring and processing it.

Generally, due to its diverse origins and unconventionally published nature, grey literature can be difficult to find. It is often found by searching for the agency or institution that is most likely to produce the literature. Such search may require looking at a large number of sources, some of whom may not have a list of what they produce in the first place. As Wood (1982:278) noted :
As well as being the subject of haphazard or specialized distribution arrangements it also has a number of other distinguishing characteristics –small print runs, variable standards of editing and production, poor publicity, poor bibliographic control, unacceptable format… and poor availability in libraries.
Availability can be seen in four perspectives – physical, bibliographic, intellectual and online. Physical availability, which is the thrust of this
work, refers to the existence of the grey literature document in a library. 

This means that users have the opportunity to undertake detailed consultation of the contents. Bibliographic availability implies the presence of references made to the documents or their content without necessarily having the document itself in the library collection. Efforts at bibliographic control of grey literature have been made in some countries. In Europe, for instance, a grey literature policy has resulted in the creation of the European Association for Grey Literature Exploitation (EAGLE).
International conferences have also been held on grey literature since 1993 and these have awakened national interest in grey literature in such
countries as Sierra Leone, Sudan, Benin, Lesotho, Senegal, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania (Debachere, 1995; Muswazi, 2001). Intellectual
availability means the existence of critical or interpretative works on the host grey literature documents. Intellectual access in most cases may
satisfy the users’ information need without the extra need to see the document.

Online availability on the other hand, refers to the existence of the grey literature in computer systems that are accessible through computer-to-computer interactions. In this case, the content can still berendered physically available (by downloading) even though the documents containing them are not physically available in the library. Availability remains, perhaps, the greatest problem affecting the appreciation of the value as well as consequent use of grey literature in libraries. Even though items may be available in libraries without being accessible (due, perhaps, to poor organisation), they may not be accessible without being available in some form. 

This seems to imply that the use of grey literature is dependent upon its availability in libraries. When items of information are available in libraries, use studies become strong indicators of the value attached to such materials by the users. However, this may not always be entirely true because sometimes people use what they see not because it is what they desire but because it is what is immediately available.
In any case, data emanating from use studies are major ingredients of library collection development policies. Such data are, however, often difficult to generate as a result of confusion arising from how to determine what amounts to real use of library materials.

To some, use is best measured by collecting data directly from the users themselves and relying solely upon their responses , whereas to others, evidence of use become more realistic when it is built up from references made by the users to what they have used. The measurement of use by inference from citations to used items by the users has been criticized as being unreliable because people are often constrained to use what is available. With particular reference to grey literature, which suffers from availability problems, a more reliable data on use can only emanate from a direct interaction with the users themselves.
The problems associated with the use of grey literature have made people, librarians and end-users alike; lose sight of its benefits. As observed by Wood (1982), it contains information likely to be of use to a considerable number of people.
The advantages of grey literature 

PROJECT TOPIC- AVAILABILITY AND USE OF GREY LITERATURE FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN SOUTH EAST,NIGERIA

 

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