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A Review of GL5 in retrospect to the Conference Series

After a four-year interval between the Fourth and Fifth International Conference on Grey Literature, GL5 was convened in Amsterdam in early December 2003. Participants from 16 countries from Finland to South Africa and Japan to California met to discuss Grey Matters in the World of Networked Information.

Twenty-four papers were presented all of which were the outcome of a Call-for-Papers six months prior to the event. As Program and Conference Director leading up to and as compiler and editor of the proceedings in close of this S&T event, I take the opportunity here to discuss some of the pre- and post conference activities involved. Perhaps changes implemented within the structure of GL5, which set it apart from the first four conferences in the series would be of particular interest to the reader? What has remained constant in the field of grey literature are the types of organisations involved worldwide, the authors and researchers with a special affinity to this field of information, and a general acceptance of the definition of grey literature redefined in 1997 at the Luxembourg Convention as information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing. The changes on the other hand, here, have more to do with the organisation and network serving the authors i.e. the knowledge base upon which this international conference series rests. Lets look at a number of those changes: · With the re-launch of the GL-conference series in 2003, the event would now take place on an annual basis, not every other year as with GL93, GL95, GL97, and GL99. This would better serve the development and continuity in the conference themes, as well as the momentum of the conference series itself. ,· Instead of one website for both the conference organisation and the content generated by the authors, two websites were designed. TextRelease.com would be the designated website for conference news, the program, and registrations, while GreyNet.org would be the website focussing on details of the conference, links to previous conferences, and a service generating discussion and documenting the event. Greynet.org was further used as a partial mirror site for the promotion of the conference.,· The quarterly newsletter in print and electronic format was replaced by a series of Conference Memoranda appearing every three weeks carrying news, updates, and press related clippings. Since the lead up to a conference was now half the time, a serial with more frequency was required.,· With the initial call-for-papers, potential authors were informed of a cooperative agreement between TextRelease and PRQ, Publishing Research Quarterly. This agreement allowed for a selection of the conference papers to appear in a special issue of PRQ in the spring of 2004. With previous conferences, negotiations with interested journals came only weeks before the event or even afterwards.,· While the conference proceedings would be published within two months of the closing session, it would still require a separate publication order. However, each of the GL5 participants received a copy of the papers and accompanying PowerPoint presentations on CD-Rom for private use. In this way, the economy of paper did not contribute to the loss of information.,· The procedure taken by the Conference Program Committee included further steps in its review process. Of the initial eight themes associated with the call-for-papers, five were maintained in the final program one of which was expanded in two parts. Papers submitted that were outside the interest of a general forum were moved to a Breakout session. More time was allotted to strategy level papers than those more practical oriented. Also, a numerical value was given to each paper, and a plenary session would have to maintain a certain average in order to guarantee its content. · Contact with the fifty authors and co-authors was ongoing and the information requested from them was on a need-to-know basis. Given the nature of an international conference, English is a second language to more than half of the authors. By establishing a timely sequence, the authors would remain throughout their research and writing in contact with the Program Bureau and were assisted in a number of ways e.g. facilitating contacts with other authors, providing bibliographic references, simple editing and ad hoc translation, etc. Information Sequence:,1. Factual information i.e. address, organisation, etc,,2. Bibliographic information i.e. title and subtitle of the proposed paper.,3. Abstract of the proposed paper and its link to one of the conference themes.,4. Biographic information on the author and co-authors,5. Revisions and/or expansion of the abstract if the Program Committee and/or author(s)deemed this necessary.,6. The full text of the paper and its accompanying PowerPoint presentation (when applicable).,7. Finally, the signature of the author(s) to a Non-Exclusive Copyright Agreement. Based on comments and recommendations from the evaluation forms, the overwhelming majority of authors and participants voiced real satisfaction with the new style brought to the GL Conference Series and look forward to GL6, where work on grey is now in progress!