Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Importance of Gray Literature

Standard citation analysis metrics (number of citations, h-index, g-index, etc.) are within the bounds of the Web of Knowledge (WoK), Scopus, and Google Scholar (GS) domains.  Academics in urban planning should consider the web (i.e., webometrics, discussed later) for books, book chapters, and journal articles, as well as academic gray literature that is produced and consumed by planning academics and planning practitioners.  This includes the rest of the academic footprint such as research reports, conference presentations, conference proceedings, and funded research grant materials.  Course syllabi are an additional source that are available on the web and often cite academic work and other gray literature on planning topics.  Other examples of gray literature for planning academics include studio or workshop projects that are posted to the web and often take the form of professional consulting reports.

It is very likely that blog posts and mentions will become recognized gray literature while potentially becoming accepted as academic products to be evaluated along with other scholarly artifacts.  In their discussion about blogging for untenured professors, Hurt and Yin (2006) mention that blogging represents a form of “pre-scholarship” where the contents may be the kernels of future articles (Hurt and Yin 2006, 15).  Some planning academics already report contributions to sites such as on their curriculum vitae (CV) under the heading of “other publications”.  The legitimacy of these postings is evidenced by the citation, download, and amount of forum discussion from a mix of planning academics and professionals.    It is likely that many of the 50% of non-publishing planning academics that Stiftel, Rukmana, and Alam (2004) mention are producing worthy gray literature that is valuable to planning pedagogy but goes unnoticed by traditional citation analysis and bibliometrics.


Hurt, C., and T. Yin. 2006. “Blogging While Untenured and Other Extreme Sports.” Wash. UL Rev. 84: 1235.

Stiftel, B., D. Rukmana, and B. Alam. 2004. “A National Research Council-Style Study.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 24 (1): 6-22.

Next entry: Webometrics


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