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A (re)Birth Announcement for the DOE Data Explorer

by Jannean Elliott on Thu, 20 Jun, 2013

A database and its supporting website can get periodic makeovers and sometimes it can even undergo rebirth!  The DOE Data Explorer (DDE) has just emerged from a rebirth process, and we are proud to announce its transformation.  The first version of DDE was launched in 2008 with the mission of guiding users to collections of publicly available, DOE-sponsored data and other non-text information.  Hundreds of websites were researched in order to find these collections at DOE’s labs, program offices, and user facilities, at data centers, at colleges and universities, on private sector websites such as SciVee, and across all science disciplines.  The mission has not changed, but the content has grown to include individual datasets within collections.  Now DOE boasts a new website design, better navigation, enhanced search functionality, and new features to help you analyze your search results.

The most obvious change in design, of course, is in the color scheme and the clean lines of the new pages.  DDE took inspiration from OSTI’s recently launched SciTech Connect, opting for a design that clearly says “family look and feel.”  An exciting part of the new “feel” appears on the left side of your screen every time you do a search.  Like SciTech Connect, DDE automatically breaks down the results of the search into groupings that allow you to shortcut through a long list of citations and go directly to the subset of your choice.  In DDE the groupings are based on the types of data and non-text items that were retrieved by your search term.  Search on the word “solar,” for example, and you will instantly see that the 95 items retrieved break down into 61 collections of numeric data, 17 collections of multimedia… and all the way down to one collection of computer animations or simulations that are related to solar energy or solar technology. 

DDE’s new search engine still offers easy basic and advanced searching.  It now also supports Boolean searches, publication date range searches, and searches focused not only on the bibliographic metadata in the records (title, author, sponsor organization, etc.), but on the “landing page” posted by the data’s owner at the host website.  All results can now be sorted by a weighted relevance algorithm or alphabetically by title. 

One of the most popular features for DDE users has always been the browsing capability.  All of the browsing options in the previous version of DDE remain, but enhancements are here too.  For example, browsing by sponsor/funding organization now allows you to quickly separate collections funded totally by DOE from those sponsored by a combination of DOE and other entities.

The content of the database has been expanded.  The “old” DDE contained records prepared by OSTI staff; these records identified collections of data and non-text information.  The “new” DDE contains these and will continue to add more, but now contains records submitted by the owners or holders of data in DOE.  These records are sent to OSTI to announce an individual dataset or datastream found within a collection and to register the data for a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).  While these records have been coming to OSTI since August of 2011, they were in the Energy Citations Database and were not physically part of the content of the DDE.  A toggle feature allowed users to see them from inside DDE, but no actual search refinement, sorting, or other manipulation could be done.  Now, both the dataset records and the collection citations are an integrated part of the DDE’s content.  Note also that a new page on the DDE website explains OSTI’s Data ID Service, which assigns unique DOIs to datasets and registers them with DataCite for international and permanent access.

The new software now underlying the DOE Data Explorer makes it easier for OSTI to plan future enhancements, such as the capability to download search results into an Excel spreadsheet.  Over the next year we will be looking at this and other improvements.  As always, we welcome your comments, your suggestions, and your questions.  We also encourage you to consider registering your individual datasets with us.  Read about OSTI’s Data ID Service from the red menu bar on DDE’s home page.

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Jannean Elliott
Technical Information Specialist

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