Appreciation of silver literature

Recently, I received an Email from Anthony Haynes from Frontinus Ltd.,, in England. He helps, especially engineers, to write successful academic articles and books.[1] In his latest research paper,[2] he deals with the importance of grey literature.

Grey literature is a form of knowledge that serves beyond peer-reviewed journals, especially for the exchange of ideas by practitioners. Academics also use it as a medium for exploring and discussing ideas in the preliminary stages of a scientific publication.

Our QI4D blog and our working papers are typical examples of this kind of grey literature.

In his paper, Haynes introduces the concept of “intellective infrastructure ” as a soft framework for knowledge generation in the research field. The idea includes concepts like knowledge infrastructure (KI), thinking infrastructure (TI), but also the ‘infrastructure of quality’ (IoQ), as Haynes names what we call Quality Infrastructure (QI). 

All concepts together refer a framework for specific knowledge generation and sharing as well as maintaining the knowledge process. 

This type of knowledge is increasingly articulated outside the formalised framework of academic journals and scientific publishers. Digitalisation, in particular, promotes the dissemination of grey literature.

Grey literature has its right to exist for consulting purposes and practical advice. Quality assurance is also here important. So, it is often the case that grey publications benefit from different kinds of peer review.[3] 

In our QI4D blog, for example, we introduced the good practice that we ask external experts have the chance to comment on most articles before publication. The blog also offers the opportunity to respond to feedback from readers and, possibly, to correct errors and shortcomings even after publication.

Today’s blog posts also allow for formal citations. To make it easier to cite our blog, we have registered it at the German National Library with the International Standard Serial Number, ISSN 2702-4059. If you use the Harvard referencing style, this blog post would be cited as follows:

Harmes-Liedtke, U. (2020). ‘Appreciation of silver literature’, Quality Infrastructure for Development, ISSN 2702-4059, November 15. Available at: (Accessed: 15 November 2020)

The visibility of grey literature is promoted through information systems like Open Grey,, or the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine,

To recognise the increasing importance and quality of grey literature, Haynes suggests calling it better “silver literature”. With the QI4D blog, we are happy to join the rising movement of knowledge generation and sharing.


[1] Haynes, A. (2010). Writing successful academic books (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Writing successful textbooks (A&C Black, 2001).

[2] Haynes, A. (2020). Research communication and grey literature: a rising tide. Suffolk/ UK, unpublished paper,

[3] Lawrence, A., et al. (2014). Where Is the Evidence? Realising the Value of Grey Literature for Public Policy & Practice, A Discussion Paper. Melbourne, Australia, Swinburne Institute for Social Research,

Feature photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

This entry was posted in knowledge, quality assurance, Quality Infrastructure and tagged , , , , by Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke

Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke is a global expert in the field of international economic development cooperation. With more than 25 years of consulting experience, he is active in all phases of a project and program development (preparation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation) and collaborates with various implementing organizations and development banks (German Development Cooperation - GIZ and PTB -, Inter-American Development Bank, European Union and United Nations). He has consulting experience in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr.Harmes-Liedtke is an experienced trainer and process consultant. He works with groups and teams to reflect on their situation and to then formulate change projects to improve their reality. He enables dialogue, facilitates and designs workshops, processes, and sense-making processes. He is certified in facilitation, mediation, and communication techniques which allow him to deal with sensitive, diverse, and even conflict situations. He supports systemic economic development in various roles: • As an expert and trainer in international trade, national quality policies, industrial policy, clusters, and global value chains • As a process consultant in designing and leading diagnostic processes that result in change, adaptation, and improvement • As a facilitator of dialogue, workshops, training, and sense-making processes • As a transdisciplinary researcher in the field of systemic economic development Born 1965, Ph.D. in political science and economics (Bremen 1999), MA in economics (Diplom-Volkswirt) (Hamburg 1991). German nationality.

2 thoughts on “Appreciation of silver literature

    • Good question. The answer is no. ‘Silver literature’ is proposed, not as a description limited to the best of grey literature, but simply as a more appealing synonym for ‘grey literature’.


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