OSTI is especially proud of its web integration work whereby we take multiple web pages, documents, and web databases and make them appear to the user as if they were an integrated whole. Once the sources are virtually integrated by OSTI, the virtual collection becomes searchable via a single query. Because information on the web appears in a variety of formats, from HTML web pages, to PDF documents, to searchable databases, OSTI has developed and uses a suite of integration approaches to make them searchable via single query.
OSTI’s mission is to collect, preserve, and disseminate DOE-sponsored R&D results emanating from research projects at DOE Laboratories and facilities and from grantees at universities and other institutions. OSTI performs its mission through many avenues, one of which includes supporting its parent organization within DOE, the Office of Science (SC), and the research programs within SC.
OSTI's diffusion researcher David Kaiser has a new book on "How the Hippies Saved Physics" that is getting great reviews. A Science Magazine review says "Meticulously researched and unapologetically romantic, ‘How the Hippies Saved Physics’ makes the history of science fun again."
Professor David Kaiser is both a physicist and an historian, on the faculty at MIT. David has done several pioneering studies for OSTI, exploring the diffusion of scientific knowledge and the role that OSTI might play in accelerating this diffusion, using computer modeling. He began as part of a team that applied a disease model to the happier case of the spread of scientific knowledge. See their report – “Population Modeling of the Emergence and Development of Scientific Fields” (2006).
WorldWideScience.org recently released a new mobile version (http://m.worldwidescience.org). Scientists and researchers throughout DOE and the entire U.S. now have access to over 80 scientific and technical databases from preeminent libraries and information centers around the world, all via their “smart phones” or tablets.
Operating in the same fashion as the computer-based version of WorldWideScience.org, the user simply enters a single query into the search box on the phone. Using federated search technology, the query is distributed to each of the approximately 80 databases and the search results are combined and re-ranked according to relevance.
Everyone speaks well of the idea that the results of scientific research should be open for all to see, although there are obvious caveats to complete openness: Proprietary research, human subjects research, preliminary results, the pace and timing for releasing results, all come to mind. But when it comes to research funded by the taxpayer, open science is almost a truism. And again, while there are practical and principled reasons why complete openness is sometimes restricted, the readers of the OSTI blog will be familiar with the arguments for openness; the principle of reproducibility is a fundamental tenant of science, the possibility of accelerating the pace of discovery by making scientific results readily and easily accessible, these are just two critical pieces of the argument. There is another reason for openness connected to both these points that was highlighted recently in Jonah Lehrer’s always interesting Head Case column in the Wall Street Journal (6/25/11).