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Breaking Out of the Grey Area: Discoverability of Technical Reports at the National Institute of Standards and Technology



Katelynd E. Bucher, Kathryn M. Miller


The NIST Research Library occupies the unique position of serving NIST both as publisher of the NIST Technical Series and in an archival capacity, responsible for collecting and preserving copies of NIST's grey literature. Over the last 15 years, the Library's publishing services have evolved from typesetting, printing, and editorial work to employing and providing expertise on the best methods for improving discovery of NIST content, reaching new and ongoing audiences, and assessing impact and technology transfer. In 2015, the Library began an effort to increase communication and collaboration with NIST researchers to ensure their publishing needs were being met. The Library conducted surveys, interviews, seminars, and initiated conversations with researchers in the NIST laboratories. The Library used the findings to refocus their efforts on NIST's technical grey literature. Collaboration with authors has been vital to the revitalization of NIST's grey literature. The Library has worked with authors to develop new author writing tools (e.g., LaTeX templates), open new content-based series (e.g., advanced manufacturing, cyber-physical systems, economic analysis), create a clearer path for authors to decide which series to utilize, and ensure discoverability of both new and legacy grey literature publications. Additionally, alternative methods of measuring impact of the publications were explored to give researchers the same level of impact data as traditional journal articles. The quality and discoverability of grey literature is extremely important, especially to those audiences who don't typically read peer-reviewed, high impact journals. Library Publishers are poised to develop methods for ensuring that grey literature is accessible, discoverable, and can achieve similar reaches and impacts as traditional publications.


grey literature, NIST publications, discoverability
Created March 20, 2017, Updated November 26, 2019