Frequently Asked Questions
How the E-print Network Works
- Q: What are e-prints?
- A: E-prints are scholarly and professional works electronically produced and shared by researchers with the intent of communicating research findings to colleagues. They may include preprints, reprints, technical reports, conference publications or other means of electronic communication. Preprints, those selectively-shared pre-published documents or articles going through the publication process, have long been recognized and utilized by peer groups throughout the scientific community. Recent technological advances, however, have incorporated preprints with other forms of peer communications to establish an information genre in its own right. Therefore, the more inclusive term e-prints is more appropriate to use currently in describing this rich and valuable source of scientific and technical information that now reaches beyond the scope of pre-published information.
- Q: Are e-prints and preprints the same thing?
- A: Not necessarily. Generally, preprints are manuscripts intended for publication that have not yet been published but may have been reviewed and accepted for publication; or they may be in the process of being circulated for comment prior to publication. Preprints generated and circulated in electronic forms make up part of the genre of communication that has come to be known as "e-prints". Many e-prints are electronic versions of research papers that have been submitted for dissemination and review among peers; for publication in journals; or prior to presentation at conferences. Some e-print servers may now define preprints as any electronic work circulated by the author outside of the traditional publishing environment, as the traditional definitions between preprints and e-prints continue to blur. In summary, from an E-print Network perspective, preprints are always e-prints, but e-prints are not necessarily preprints.
- Q: What is the E-print Network: Research Communications for Scientists and Engineers?
- A: The E-print Network is a set of powerful tools that facilitate access to and use of scientific and technical e-prints communicating the results of a wide range of research activities of interest to the Department of Energy. These e-prints reside on thousands of
websites and data bases, both large and small, at remote locations worldwide, employing a wide variety of technologies, architectures, platforms, formats, software, and search engines to manage and retrieve data. The E-print Network pulls these vast and widely dispersed data together through a Deep Web search capability that allows the patron to search across and into full text as it resides at the various hosting sites and, using the technical capabilities available at each site, returns results that can be combined, assimilated, and used in support of scientific research. In addition, access is provided to a vast store of e-print information available on the Web through a browse capability across more than ten thousand sites.
The E-print Network, however, is more than a source for scientists and engineers to find, assimilate, and use scientific and technical e-prints in their fields of interest. Also central to research efforts are the interpersonal activities which occur on a one-to-one basis, in small groups, in classrooms and seminars, and at large or small conferences. These interpersonal activities are in fact research communications, too, and it is frequently through these research communications that much of the strategically important activities in which researchers engage are shared. The E-print Network: Research Communications for Scientists and Engineers aims to facilitate and encourage the exchange of these strategically important research communications to help the user fully understand the content of the e-prints on the Network, to assist contributors in gaining wide circulation of their documents and in forging new contacts with colleagues, and to support research sponsoring agencies' interests in seeing that the greatest possible good results from their research investment.
The E-print Network then is about the professional communications that are fundamental to the way science progresses. Counted among these communications are those among colleagues pursuing common research objectives, between experimental and theoretical scientists, between those in the basic and those in the applied sciences, between scientists and engineers, and between established investigators and those in academic programs. These communications may be formal, as publications, and less formal in ways described above. The E-print Network plans to employ advances in information technology to facilitate advances in science, to aid the workers in the sciences to better achieve their objectives, and to enhance the federal government's return on the R&D investment.
- Q: Who uses the E-print Network?
- A: As the name implies, the target users for the E-print Network are professional researchers in basic and applied sciences. These users will find e-prints useful in comparing and validating research results with those of peers, keeping abreast of the activities of other investigators whose efforts are likely to impact their research, learning about researchers with whose work they may not be familiar, and identifying areas of common interest with other researchers.
The E-print Network can also be of great value to students in scientific and technical studies at the graduate level for locating and using a broad range of information in support of their fields of interest. It can also help them discover behind-the-scenes interactions between the principals involved in their chosen research areas. Undergraduate science students contemplating graduate studies can find information about graduate programs and gain a better understanding of what pursuing these studies would entail.
Of interest to those at or approaching the post-graduate level is that many established investigators announce the availability of post-doctoral positions on their Web pages. Post-doctoral investigators can become aware of such opportunities and compare how available opportunities align with their own career goals.
The E-print network will also be useful to those involved in research administration and management. Not only should the enhanced level of communication facilitate funded research, but reviewers should be able to gain an understanding of the dynamics of funded research programs.
- Q: How does the E-print Network help the user?
- A: The E-print Network system brings together a variety of e-print servers and resources into one location. By eliminating the need to locate e-print sites through Web searching, researchers can find more information while saving time. In addition, the Alerts capability allows users to set up profiles matching their specific interests. As new information is indexed or added to databases, users are notified automatically, thus eliminating the need to manually check for recent additions.
As with other Internet sites, the e-prints sites and resources may be transient in nature and may be modified or removed at the discretion of the site owners with or without prior notification. The e-prints themselves are also dynamic. Many of them have not yet been peer reviewed, or are currently undergoing peer review. Substantial changes may occur prior to formal publication, and it is possible that the preprint may not be formally published at all.
How the E-print Network Works
- Q: What's in the E-print Network?
- A: The E-print Network does not "house" information on a centralized site. Instead, it uses information residing at remote sites on disparate databases and
websites to create and compile real-time search results on demand for each user. Therefore, it is important to remember that the Network's interface is a tool, not a repository for information. Its content is determined by what is available on the sites we have chosen to include in the search mechanisms we make available to users. The deep Web search offers full-text searching within and across database collections. This provides users the capability to pulse the search engines of selected e-print databases with a single query. A compiled search results list is returned. If a description is needed for a database, please refer to the Collection Description page.
With that caveat in mind, the E-print Network provides one-stop browse/search access to over 35,300 scientific
websites containing e-prints. Full-text searching is available for more than 5.5 million e-prints from
websites and scientific databases. More than 3,100 professional scientific societies can be browsed by
discipline and/or language.
- Q: What are the criteria for inclusion in the E-print Network?
- A: In order for a website, database, or e-print document to be considered for inclusion in the E-print Network, it must meet the following criteria:
The content must be applicable to the Department of Energy's research and development (R&D) programs, projects, activities, or interests. The Disciplines page includes many of the categories of R&D considered within scope for the E-print Network.
- The E-print Network seeks to support researchers with electronic e-print information primarily in physical sciences, but also including other areas of basic and applied science, research engineering, and various aspects of mathematics and computer science. Content and selection criteria are governed by the research information needs of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) research and development missions, programs, projects, activities and interests. DOE is a major federal science agency that sponsors a far-reaching, diverse variety of research conducted at national laboratories, project sites, universities, smaller dedicated research institutions, other government agencies, and private research entities.
Content must meet DOE's definition for scientific and technical information as defined in Order DOE 241.1 (Section 8a):
- Useful information products, in any format or medium, that are derived from scientific and technical studies, work, or investigations that relate to research, development, demonstration, and other specialized areas, such as environmental and health protection and waste management.
Content for the E-print Network must meet the criteria of being e-print information as defined in the What are e-prints section above.
- Note: E-print coverage of different DOE-related science and technology areas is quite uneven as a result of disparities in e-print use among the various scientific disciplines. Some areas, like high energy physics, are e-print pioneers and are very well represented. Other areas, such as clean coal technology, have so far provided very limited e-print capability. Patrons are encouraged to Add E-prints, submitting
websites, databases and individual documents for addition to our E-print Network collections.
Content must be in reusable electronic format that allows access to all users.
- Access limitations, such as password controls or registration requirements, are not conducive to the operation of certain functions of the E-print Network. For inclusion in E-prints on the Web, documents must be in a format retrievable by the E-print Network. At present, .pdf, .ps, and .dvi documents are the only formats indexed for this feature. For Deep Web searching, databases must have a readily accessible search engine operating on a set of freely available information.
- Q: How Does the E-print Network function?
- A: The E-print Network uses a unique concept and a set of innovative features to allow patrons to perform a variety of Deep Web search operations that take advantage of the strengths of the individual sites where information resides and leverages those strengths to enable cross-searching of disparate data sources, assimilation and discovery of information, and reuse in advancing science.
The resources available via the E-print Network are located on a wide range of sources residing at academic institutions, government research laboratories, scientific societies, private research organizations, and the
websites of individual scientists and researchers. The Network facilitates access to these resources. It does not change the content or data provided by the originating site or author in any way. When a document is displayed or downloaded, the patron actually downloads the e-print directly from the
website where the document resides. The document is not stored or maintained by the E-print Network.
The primary mechanisms that provide the functionality for the E-Print Network are Distributed Explorit and Explorit Focused Crawler. Developed by Deep Web Technologies, Inc., these products are derived from Explorit, a highly-configurable and easily customizable interface to commercially available, off-the-shelf (COTS) full-text search engines from Lextek
International and Verity. Explorit provides the capability to deploy small to large-scale collections of information on the web - fully searchable and easily navigable - to a wide range of user communities. Large organizations or information purveyors with many collections of heterogeneous information benefit from the consistency and usability of the Explorit user interface. Whether they deploy one collection or one hundred, users quickly learn that all Explorit applications operate essentially the same way, and variances are determined by content rather than inconsistent design.
- What is E-print Network's search architecture?
- Different researchers and research organizations use different mechanisms to publish e-prints. The publication mechanisms fall into one of two general categories. First, "papers" and articles can be published in databases or portals. Typically, such databases and portals have their own search engine, and they are often not readily crawled and indexed. Alternatively, "papers" and articles can be published as simple
website documents. In order to make all the documents searchable and retrievable, E-print Network implements a blend of federated search to search databases and portals and Web harvesting technologies to make
website documents searchable.
The E-print Network offers a unique combination of search capabilities to search two distinct areas where scientific and technical information resides electronically, on
websites and in databases. By focusing on access to the full text of e-prints in each of these areas, the Network provides a degree of specificity that greatly enhances the value of search results and allows recovery, assimilation, and reuse of heretofore hard to find information to facilitate scientific research. The three search capabilities are:
- Website Searching. Search full text of over
2 million e-prints indexed directly from
websites. At present, PDF documents are searchable, but other document forms will be included in the near future. These documents reside at the originator's site, but have been indexed for inclusion in a virtual collection for search and retrieval alone or in conjunction with a Deep Web search.
- Database Searching. Perform a Deep Web search across the full text of documents residing in selected databases containing e-print material with a single query. This unique federated search pulses in real time a wide variety of databases and returns the most current information available to a substantial level of depth within each record of each database. A
website Search described above can be easily incorporated into a Deep Web search.
- The DOE Science Accelerator searches multiple science resources, including the E-print Network. These resources, developed by OSTI, reside in the deep Web where popular search engines cannot go. The DOE Science Accelerator provides a "deeper" search that yields results ranked by relevancy. This search may take a little longer, but returns more comprehensive, higher quality science information.
See additional information.
This option offers patrons the ability to browse over 35,300
websites of individual researchers, college and university departments, academic/professional societies and associations, laboratory sites, and other resources organized by Disciplines. It includes e-prints servers, sites, and individual e-prints posted by scientists on their own sites. Users may browse the list of sites in the discipline directories and readily access research-oriented
websites of interest.
To facilitate scholarly communication and expand access to additional scientific information, we provide extensive lists of scientific societies and associations. From these lists the user is one click away from the home page of over 3,100 professional societies in the sciences and engineering. You may choose to see these organizations listed in one of eleven languages or language groups. If you prefer you may craft a list based upon the discipline or disciplines reflecting your interests limited by the languages you choose.
Select this option to establish a routine search based on your specific area(s) of interest and automatically receive a periodic alert via e-mail notifying you whenever documents matching your search terms are indexed or added to the Deep Web selected databases. This Alert Service can also be utilized to automatically receive notification of new e-prints emanating from particular laboratories.
You may be interested in how the E-print Network accesses your site. When a user does a search on the E-print Network and selects a paper for his/her own use, the actual request for a copy of the e-print is directed back to the Web source for this paper. For example, a user wishing to obtain a copy of one of the papers at your site would select the paper from the E-print Network, but would be directed to your site for the download. You maintain full control of the distribution of your e-prints. Along with each e-print retrieved by the search engine in this portion of the E-print Network is also a link to the Web page associated with the document so that the user can easily become familiar with the research program that generated the work. We hope you will find that the E-print Network will help bring other researchers to your site to discover your program and that some of these scientists will become interested in your work.