|Contents of the Guidelines|
1.Statement of purpose
1.1. About the Guidelines
1.2. Potential users of the Guidelines
1.3. How to use the Guidelines
2.1. Authorship and contributorship
2.3. Peer review
2.4. Conflicts of interest
2.5. Privacy and confidentiality
3.Publishing and editorial issues
3.3. Electronic publishing and institutional repositories
4.1. Instructions to authors
4.2. Report structure
4.3. Revision editing
4.4. Sending the report
5.General information on the Guidelines
5.1. Steering committee
5.2. Use, distribution, translation and inquiries
Annex. List of institutions adopting the Guidelines
Guidelines for the production
of scientific and technical reports:
how to write and distribute
|© GLISC 2006
|1. Statement of purpose|
1.1. About the Guidelines
These Guidelines refer to the production of scientific and technical reports, precious documents included in the wider category of Grey Literature (GL), defined - in the International Conferences on GL held in Luxembourg (1997) and in New York (2004) - as:
Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body.
These Guidelines were presented during the 7th International Conference on GL held in Nancy (France) on 5-6 December 2005 as a proposal by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) (Rome, Italy) for the adoption of uniform requirements for the production of GL.* The initiative was discussed at the Round Table on Quality Assessment by a small group of GL producers, librarians and information professionals who agreed to collaborate in the revision of the document proposed by the ISS.
The group approving these guidelines - informally known as the "Nancy Group" - has been formally defined as the Grey Literature International Steering Committee (GLISC).
These recommendations are adapted from the Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals, produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and better known as "Vancouver style" (updated October 2005, available from www.icmje.org and now adopted by more than 500 biomedical journals), and also took into consideration the basic principles of ISO standard Documentation - Presentation of scientific and technical reports (ISO 5966/1982) withdrawn in 2000.
The ISO 5966, in fact, does no longer meet the requirements of ITC (Information Technology Communication), but it still provides useful hints for a correct report preparation.
These Guidelines will be periodically updated by the GLISC.
GL producers that agree to use the Guidelines are encouraged to state it in their recommended instructions to authors for the preparation of technical reports or other types of GL and cite this document. GL producers that wish to be listed on www.glisc.info as producers that follow the Guidelines should contact the GLISC Secretariat office.
The Guidelines are created primarily to help authors and GL producers in their mutual task of creating and distributing accurate, clear, easily accessible reports in different fields. The goal of the Guidelines is, in fact, to permit an independent and correct production of institutional reports in the respect of the basic editorial principles.
The Guidelines include ethical principles related to the process of evaluating, improving, and making available reports, and the relationships between GL producers and authors. The latter sections address the more technical aspects of preparing and submitting reports. The GLISC believes the entire document is relevant to the concerns of both authors and GL producers.
The Guidelines state the ethical principles in the conduct and reporting of research and provide recommendations relating to specific elements of editing and writing. Authors and GL producers will find it helpful to follow the recommendations in this document whenever possible because it will improve the quality and clarity of reporting, as well as the ease of editing. At the same time, every GL producer may add editorial requirements uniquely suited to its purposes. Authors therefore need to become familiar with the specific Instructions to authors and should follow them.
|2. Ethical considerations|
2.1. Authorship and contributorship
An "author" is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a study, and authorship continues to have important academic, social, and financial implications. In some cases personal authors do not appear on the byline, because the document is issued under the entire responsibility of the organization. This is case of reports including, for example, the annual activity of an institution or official data.
Some reports contain detailed information about the contributions of each person named as authors. Issuing organizations are encouraged to develop and implement an authorship policy to identify who is responsible for the integrity of the work as a whole. This will also help improving quality of each report.
Authorship credit should be based on both: 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or data acquisition, analysis and interpretation; 2) document drafting or critically revising for important intellectual content.
When a group has conducted the work, if the authorship is up to the group, the group should be clearly and formally defined as such identifying each member and, once established, the group name must be used unchanged. Otherwise all individuals having direct responsibility for the manuscript and fully meeting the criteria for authorship should be stated as authors and the other members of the group should be listed in the acknowledgements.
The order of authorship on the byline should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Authors should be prepared to explain the order in which authors are listed.
Some documents containing contributions of different authors (i.e. conference proceedings) may be edited by one or more individual persons that are responsible for the document as a whole (editors).
All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an acknowledgments section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, writing assistance, or a department chair that provided only general support. Financial and material support should also be acknowledged.
Groups of persons who have contributed materially to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship may be listed under a heading such as "participating investigators," and their function or contribution should be described - for example, as "scientific advice", "critical review of the study proposal", or "data collection".
The issuing organization plays the role of editor of technical reports. It is responsible for quality and costs of distribution; it shall guarantee that the documents are reliable and readable, produced with due respect for the stated aims and mission of the institution. The institution establishes and maintains the editorial policy for GL and may be supported by an internal editorial advisory board or service.
Unbiased, independent, critical assessment is an intrinsic part of all scholarly work, including the scientific process. Peer review is the critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to journals by experts who are not part of the editorial staff even if it may be sometimes biased. Peer review, however, is a relevant point under discussion for GL and may be a future challenge also in consideration of Open Access to GL documents. GL, for example, may deal with security issues or contain sensitive data which might be not properly used by malevolent readers: this is why special attention must be placed before diffusion to make authors aware of the potential risks of spreading hazardous information.
A careful editorial revision of the text or other review or peer review procedures will help to check the opportunity of the circulation of such data.
As in journal literature, also in GL it may be necessary to include a declaration regarding conflicts of interest as specified by ICMJE Committee:
Conflict of interest exists when an author (or the authors institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions (such relationships are also known as dual commitments, competing interests, or competing loyalties). […] Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual passion.
GL producers may use information disclosed in conflict of interest and financial interest statements as a basis for editorial decisions. They should publish this information if they believe it is important in judging the manuscript. Potential conflicts of interest may be related to:
2.5. Privacy and confidentiality
Producers should guarantee the respect of privacy and confidentiality of data contained in any GL document concerning study participants (no identifying detail should appear and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt). In case of peer review of GL all ethical principles (anonymity, confidentiality, dishonesty or fraud, etc.) should be considered.
|3. Publishing and editorial issues|
Issuing organizations should make their position on copyright clear to authors and to others who might be interested in using editorial content from their documents.
Copyright laws may be different from Country to Country. Yet, the copyright of an institutional report usually belongs to the issuing organization. In this case, it must be clearly identified in the report with the symbol © followed by the name of the issuing organization and the year of publication. It is generally placed in the back of the title page (see 220.127.116.11).
The existence of copyright does not imply that the document may not be freely reproduced, but it represents a declaration of intellectual ownership (the employees of an organization are as authors the voice of their institution). The issuing organization may decide that information contained in a report is of public domain, and declare it in the report, only in this case it is possible to reproduce the document or parts of the document without asking for permission.
The copyright may also be held by a funding organization. In this case, it should be mentioned clearly in the funding contract.
A non-exclusive rights agreement may offer an alternative to copyright. It provides a guarantee to the publishing body that the content is not in breach of earlier copyright, while at the same time it allows the authors to use other means of publication and distribution for their work (e.g. institutional repositories, federated repositories, etc.).
The inclusion of an e-mail address or any other useful institutional contact with the author(s) is recommended.
It may appear preferably in the back of the title page or elsewhere in the report (see 18.104.22.168).
Most institutional reports are now distributed in electronic as well as print versions, and some are published in electronic form only. Electronic availability (which includes the Internet) means publishing. In the interest of clarity and consistency, all institutional information published online should follow the recommendations contained in this document whenever possible.
The nature of electronic publication requires some special considerations, both within and beyond this document. At a minimum, websites should indicate the following: names, appropriate credentials, affiliations, and relevant conflicts of interest of editors, authors, and contributors; documentation and attribution of references and sources for all content; information about copyright; disclosure of site ownership; and disclosure of sponsorship, advertising, and commercial funding.
Electronic publication is an area that is in flux. GL producers should develop, make available to authors, and implement policies on issues unique to electronic publishing. These issues include archiving, error correction, version control and perennial access. Many documents put on a website are no longer accessible after a short time. GL producers are encouraged to use stable or permanent sites for the diffusion of their production.
In no instance should a producer remove a report from its website or archive. If a report needs to be corrected or retracted, the revision should be clearly identifiable.
Preservation of electronic report in a permanent archive is essential for the historical record. Access to the archive should be immediate and it may be controlled by a third party, such as a library, instead of the GL producers. Deposition in multiple archives is encouraged.
When a report is included in an institutional repository, information on the status of the document should be added (submitted, validated, revised, etc.).
Many journals carry advertising, which generates income for their publishers. While it may not be advisable for use in institutional reports, other types of GL may choose to include advertising for cost-recovery purposes. In such cases, a policy should be established and made available. In any case, advertising must always be independent of messages contained in the document. GL producers should ensure that citation of specific products or equipment or machinery used in a study should be avoided unless they directly influence its results.
|4. Report preparation|
4.1. Instructions to authors
GL producers and users appreciate reports that are easy to edit as well as easy to read and understand. Therefore producers are strongly recommended to issue instructions to guide authors in the production of a formally correct document - ready to be distributed - containing indications for formats and styles, illustrations, etc.
Reports may be produced at different levels, in some cases inside the institution there is an editorial office dealing with publications in general and therefore also with GL, in other cases reports are issued without editorial support.
Instructions to authors should provide a standard report structure.
Issuing organizations may also provide a checklist to help authors in the production of a correct document (Are all the essential elements included? Are all the references complete? Are all the tables cited in the text? Are all units of measure standardized? etc.).
The report is generally divided into 3 parts: Front matter, Body of report and End matter. It should be based on the following scheme:
Producers are encouraged to create a model file that automatically activates the correct styles and formats (in Word this file has the extension ".dot"). This will help authors in manuscript preparation by automatically applying the correct style for each level of titles and text: a proper structure will also contribute to an easily usability and availability in the Internet. The structure to be applied to the Body of report and also to Appendices (if any) may be defined by numbers (numeric hierarchy) or different font sizes and styles (typographical hierarchy); the recommended numbering should not exceed the 3rd level; Introduction and Conclusions are not numbered (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Recommended structure of a report
A structured document may be easily converted into XML to allow advanced search facilities in specific parts of the document such as introduction, conclusions, and citations. Since we are moving from printed to electronic grey literature, metadata become of the utmost importance, not only to retrieve articles but also to establish rights and measure the productive output of an institution. Issuing organizations may include in their Instructions to authors specific recommendations to fill metadata forms. Data to be entered in the metadata form are mentioned under 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199.
188.8.131.52. Front cover
This part represents the first presentation of the report to the user, therefore it contains the basic bibliographic information to identify the document (see Title page: 184.108.40.206), yet, for economy, the title page often stands for the front cover, above all in the Internet versions.
The Title page of any document is the first recto page of a report and the preferred source of bibliographic information required for efficient document processing and retrieval. Each report should include a title page carrying the following information:
Titles must be descriptive and shall include subtitles, if any. Concise titles are easier to read than long, convoluted ones. Titles that are too short may, however, lack important information. Authors should include all words in the title that will make electronic retrieval of the report both sensitive and specific. Abbreviations in the title should be avoided.
The Back of the title page should include information also appearing in the Title page (report title, authors, etc.) and the following items:
220.127.116.11. Table of contents
A Table Of Contents (TOC) is essential to provide an immediate understanding of the content of the report and facilitate the online input and use of each part of the document.
TOC shall be placed immediately after the Back of the title page and contain the titles of the main headings and sub-headings of the report including appendices, if any, together with the number of the pages in which they appear. The structure of TOC (title levels) depends on the type of report (e.g. a handbook of technical procedures shall require a more detailed TOC to help readers in information retrieval). TOC can be automatically created by using a word processor (such as Word) when styles are applied to each title level; therefore, when Instructions to authors include a model file they should envisage the use of styles.
When a report contains many abbreviations or acronyms, they may be listed with their definitions before the body of the report, even though they must be explained in the text when first appearing unless they are standard units of measurement. Only standard abbreviations shall be used since non-standard abbreviations can be extremely confusing.
A Preface may be included or not. If necessary, it shall be placed immediately before the body of the report, and shall contain a preliminary comment on the content of the document and may be signed by a person different from the authors of the report.
The Body of a report shall be structured according to its content and complexity.
Reports may start with an Introduction that provides a context or background for the work described (i.e. the nature of the problem and its significance) pointing out specific purposes of the study not including data or conclusions from the work being reported. The Introduction shall not be numbered.
The Core of report represents the main part of the document and shall permit the reader to easily understand its content (theory, methods, results). Topics shall be presented in logical sequence. The structure of the Core depends on the type of the document itself (handbook, research protocol, progress report, etc.). The Instructions to authors shall envisage different levels for titles but it is up to the author to decide how to organize the text.
Figures and tables essential to the understanding of the text shall be included in the core of the report, but when information is too detailed (i.e. many tables or figures on the same subject) as to interrupt the flow of the text, it shall be presented in Appendices, which may contain also extra or supplementary materials. The text shall not repeat all the data included in the tables or illustrations.
Conclusions represent a clear presentation of the deductions made after full consideration of the work reported in the Core of the report. They may include some quantitative data, but not too many details. They may also contain recommendations for further actions deemed necessary as a direct result of the study described.
It is possible to acknowledge help given in the preparation of the report, but it is not usual to acknowledge minor assistance, routine checking or secretarial work. Major contributions give the right to be included as author of the entire report or of an appendix, if it is the case.
All sources of information directly used to prepare the text shall be listed at the end of the Core of report. It is not correct to cite secondary sources of information. Citations in text may be indicated by:
The style of references in the list shall be recommended by the issuing organization in the Instructions to authors and may be different according to specific fields of knowledge or traditions. In some fields recommended standards already exist as they were created to be used in open literature (such as "Vancouver style" for the biomedical field, "APA style" for psychology; other widely used styles are "Chicago" and "Harvard"). Citing rules in GL are not different than in open literature. Therefore, GLISC recommends the use of already existing styles. To minimize errors in references, authors should verify them against the original documents. "Personal communication" shall be avoided unless it provides essential information not available from a public source, in which case the name of the person and date of communication should be cited in parentheses in the text. In general each reference shall include all the bibliographic elements required to identify unambiguously the source. In synthesis the following items shall be considered for:
When citing electronic material the bibliographic elements are always the same, but the type of electronic source shall be included (e.g. CD-ROM) and the Internet address shall be added for each online material preceded by "available from" and the date of the last visit. Preference should be given to persistent links/addresses to the cited documents (citations of general websites should be avoided).
The GLISC recommends the adoption of "Vancouver style" in scientific GL for its simplicity of use and as it has been already generally adopted in the biomedical field. Vancouver style for references is available from the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) providing detailed samples of different reference citation formats in its website at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/uniform_requirements.html. Vancouver style has established rules for punctuation to be followed in citations. Yet each issuing organization can decide the preferred typographical style for references (i.e. italics for journals, bold for issues, etc.). Here follow some references taken as examples from Vancouver style for:
4.2.3. End matter
Appendices are not essential in every report. They shall be identified by consecutive letters (Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.). They are used to present material that is necessary for completeness, but would interrupt the flow of reading if inserted in the Core of report or material that is not of interest for the general reader, but only for a specialist in the field.
Possible types of appendix are supplementary illustrations or tables, description of equipment, techniques, questionnaires used for surveys, raw data collected during the study, etc.
References in Appendices are treated independently of those reported in the Body of report and are listed separately at the end of each Appendix.
An index is a list of the main contents or items appearing in a report (such as personal or geographical names, or other topics) arranged in alphabetical order. It is a useful tool for long reports or texts that can be also consulted not in sequence. The choice of index depends on the type of document (e.g. in conference proceedings it is recommended to include an authors' index, in a handbook an analytical one). Indexes represent an added value for the best exploitation of the document and shall be carefully organized. Word processing programs offer today a valid support for index making, but they never replace the intellectual activity behind the creation of any index.
The Back cover can contain the name, address, telephone, fax, e-mail and website of the issuing organization and/or printer and other relevant information on report availability.
4.2.4. Non textual material
The choice between Tables or Figures depends on which elements are intended to be focussed (a table points out results, a graph promotes understanding of results and suggests interpretations of their meaning and relationships; graphs shall be used as an alternative to tables with many entries without duplicating data in graphs and tables).
Non textual material should be limited to that supporting the text and pertinent for the understanding of the study described.
Each item shall be numbered consecutively (Table 1, Figure 1) in the order of its first citation in the text, followed by a brief title. Illustrations shall be cited in the text and placed soon after their citation (and not before) or included in Appendices if they are so detailed as to interrupt the flow of reading.
If data included in illustrations are from other published sources, permission shall be obtained by the copyright owner (except for documents in the public domain) and the original source shall be fully acknowledged.
Use of colours for illustrations should be carefully checked as in many cases GL is still printed in black and white.
Tables are used when the attention of the reader shall be focussed on data and not on trends of data. They capture information concisely, and display it efficiently; they also provide information at any desired level of detail and precision. Including data in tables rather than text frequently makes it possible to reduce the length of the text. Oversized tables should be avoided.
A table is a matrix containing rows and columns of data which must be homogeneous. Each column shall have a short heading guiding the reader in understanding the table content; each cell must contain data (in case of missing data it shall be indicated by special marks or letters). Internal horizontal or vertical lines are to be avoided whenever possible and a correct spacing may be used instead. Authors should place explanatory matter in footnotes (not in the heading), which might contain also the explanation of non standard abbreviations.
Figures should include relevant information needed for evidence, efficacy or emphasis. They should be made as self-explanatory as possible using legends, when necessary.
Figures shall be suitable for printing (i.e. either professionally drawn and photographed, or produced as photographic quality digital prints in JPEG or GIF formats).
Although some organizations may help authors of technical reports to redraw figures, in most cases there is no editorial support and authors should be aware that the final printing quality depends on that of their original figures. Letters, numbers, and symbols should therefore be clear and even throughout.
If photographs of people are used, either the subjects must not be identifiable or authors must obtain a written permission to use the photographs.
The use of the International System of Units (SI) for measurements is recommended. Thus, measurements of length, height, weight, and volume should be reported in metric units (meter, kilogram, or litre) or their decimal multiples; and temperatures should be in Celsius degrees.
Non-SI units may also be used when the SI is lacking.
4.3. Revision editing
Rush edit regards a check on:
4.3.2. Standard edit
Standard edit encompasses all the tasks in the Rush edit at a major level of detail adding style considerations. It requires more time and effort, but ensures a better editorial quality. It regards:
4.3.3. Professional edit
4.4. Sending the report
|5. General information on the Guidelines|
5.1. Steering committee
The GLISC participating organizations that formally approved Guidelines for the production of scientific and technical reports: how to write and distribute grey literature in March 2006 include:
1. Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) - Rome, Italy
2. Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST-CNRS) - Nancy, France
3. Grey Literature Network Service (GreyNet), Amsterdam - Netherlands
The total content of the Guidelines may be reproduced for educational, not-for-profit purposes without regard for copyright; the Committee encourages distribution of the material.
The GLISC policy is for interested organizations to link to the official English language document at www.glisc.info. The GLISC does not endorse posting of the document on websites other than www.glisc.info.
International Organization for Standardization. Documentation - Presentation of scientific and technical reports. Geneva: ISO; 1982. (ISO 5966).
European Association of Science Editors. Science editors handbook. Old Woking (UK): EASE; 2003.
Gustavii B. How to write and illustrate a scientific paper. Lund: Studentlitteratur; 2000.
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication. ICMJE: 2006. Available from www.icmje.org. Last visited: 15/2/2006.
Huth EJ. How to write and publish papers in the medical sciences. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1990.
Matthews JR, Bowen JM, Matthews RW. Successful scientific writing. A step-by-step guide for biological and medical sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2000.
Nadziejka DE. Levels of technical editing. Reston (VA): Council of Biology Editors; 1999. (Council or Science Editors GuideLines No. 4).
National Library of Medicine. Bibliographic Services Division. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for Manuscript submitted to Biomedical Journals: Sample references. Bethesda, MD: NLM; 2005. Available from www.nlm.nih.gov; last visited: 31/10/2005.
SIGLE Manual. Part 1: SIGLE cataloguing rules. Luxembourg: EAGLE; 1990.
Farace DJ, Frantzen J, editors, GL'97 Conference Proceedings: Third International Conference on Grey Literature: Perspectives on the design and transfer of scientific and technical information. Luxembourg, 13-14 November 1997. Amsterdam: GreyNet/TransAtlantic; 1998. (GL-conference series No. 3).
Farace DJ, Frantzen J, editors. Sixth International Conference on Grey Literature: Work on Grey in Progress. New York, 6-7 December 2004. Amsterdam : TextRelease; 2005. (GL-conference series No. 6).
|Annex. List of institutions adopting the Guidelines|
Up to now, the following institutions formally agreed to adopt these Guidelines:
1. Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) - Rome, Italy (2006)
2. Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST-CNRS) - Nancy, France (2006)
3. Grey Literature Network Service (GreyNet), Amsterdam - The Netherlands (2006)