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From Unprocessed Unknowns to Digital Diffusion: Uncovering Grey Literature at the Center for the History of Psychology
The Grey Journal (2012)
  • Jodi Kearns, University of Akron
  • Cathy L Faye, University of Akron
  • Lynn Willis
The Center for the History of Psychology (CHP) at The University of Akron is home to a special collection of grey literature that documents the history of psychology and related human sciences. The collection is comprised of around 4000 paper-and-pencil achievement and diagnostic tests; 15,000 organizational newsletters, white papers, conference programs, conference proceedings, and membership directories; and 8,000 US military technical reports. Historians have much to glean from these collections. The test collections document more than 100 years of changing practices in the measurement of aptitudes, personality, abilities, and preferences. The collection of military documents details the long and sometimes complicated relationship between the military and social scientists. The collections are also important for contemporary scholars of the social and behavioral sciences, since they contain a wealth of unpublished data on everything from job satisfaction to decision making. These data are an untapped but immensely useful resource for meta-analytic studies as well as general literature reviews in the contemporary social and behavioral sciences. The central goal of the CHP was to find a way to make these unprocessed, unknown materials available to scholars from a variety of fields. Digitization and mass distribution was the clearest solution. However, the CHP lacked the financial resources necessary for such a large project. The CHP therefore partnered with the American Psychological Association (APA) to uncover, process, digitize, and provide access to largely unknown grey literature documents. A CHP librarian was hired to manage the digitization project. Digitization was conducted onsite using rented equipment. Scanned images were then uploaded to the APA server for their team to process and to assign metadata in order to provide access to the digital documents via PsycEXTRA, a searchable, digital repository widely used in the psychology community. The processes at CHP included archival arrangement, organization, and processing of documents. APA contracted with Kirtas to be the onsite digitization vendor. Costs were split between the grey literature project and a concurrent book scanning project at CHP, and included rental of two scanners, two full-time staff to scan, and file processing at a remote location. PDF files were then accessioned into PsycEXTRA production for normal processing. All files were investigated for copyright restrictions. For those files for which we already have agreement with the copyright owner, or which are in the public domain, we indexed and released into PsycEXTRA and back to CHP. All other files are being held in a dark archive until we can get permission from the copyright holder to release. The CHP/APA scanning project represents an attempt to build a partnership between subject-specific special collections and the disciplines with which they are most closely aligned. This partnership has proven to be a very successful one, resulting in the digitization and distribution of nearly 20,000 documents from the CHP Grey Literature collection. The documents will be available onsite at the CHP, through the PsycEXTRA database, and on the CHP website.
  • grey literature
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jodi Kearns, Cathy L Faye and Lynn Willis. "From Unprocessed Unknowns to Digital Diffusion: Uncovering Grey Literature at the Center for the History of Psychology" The Grey Journal Vol. 8 Iss. 3 (2012)
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