Invisible College or Informal Communications
General Information

Unfiltered, informal communications produced by communities of people who share an interest in a common subject or discipline. E-mail, personal conversations, conference papers, unpublished diaries, meeting minutes, phone calls, newsletters, memoranda, and other sources that may not pass through the usual publishing, broadcasting, and distribution channels.



  • Some historically inaccessible information is now made available on the Internet
  • Often available sooner than conventional literature
  • May allow the reader/user to "listen in" on active debate of current issues


  • Dramatic variation in quality
  • Can be hard to identify, search for, and access
  • May require validation of data, especially with Internet sources
  • Assumes a fairly high level of familiarity with an issue or topic
  • Usually not good for gathering background information, but great for gathering clues and easily-overlooked insights
  • Target audience: Any group sharing a common interest -- you may need to look up some terms



unpublished documents