Posts Tagged: Literature Spectrum



The Literature Spectrum

There are three commonly known types of research (and we’re conditioned to only listen to and accept one):

  • White Literature – Clean, pure and peer-reviewed. Academic. The Gold standard.
  • Black Literature – Advertising, marketing, corporate literature, propaganda.
  • Grey Literature – The stuff in-between. Company white papers, government reports and think tank advocacy pieces.

I’d like to suggest a wider spectrum:

  • Eggshell White Literature – White Literature that’s hopelessly out-of-date but maintains the status quo because no one else has created new research to replace it.
  • Off-White Literature – White Literature that’s found to be mistakenly error-prone.
  • Ivory White Literature – White Literature that’s found to be intentionally error-prone in order to mislead.
  • Dim Grey Literature – New forms of research and literature – such as blogs and collaborative research projects – typically held in disregard by White Literature.
  • Dark Grey Literature – Black Literature that happens to be based on truth and fact.
  • Slate Grey Literature – Commentary with a clear agenda but with sound logical reasoning and analysis. Cannot be proven right nor wrong but makes too much sense to ignore.

I’m sure there are dozens more. What about Vapour Literature? Literature that literally doesn’t exist and was never meant to be used as research but nevertheless can be used as literature? Flickr, for example.

When you stop looking at research from a binary perspective and embrace the idea of Literature as a spectrum, things become more complicated.

It’s harder to know what to listen to when you’ve got choices greater than merely good versus bad.


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