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OSTIblog Articles in the interoperability Topic

Making Scientific Databases Work Together—For You (psst . . . that's "search interoperability")

by Dr. Walt Warnick 13 Feb, 2012 in Technology


Making Scientific Databases Work Together—For You (psst . . . that's "search interoperability")

Sometimes something complex can work so seamlessly that it’s easy to miss. We think that’s the case with our solution in achieving search interoperability.

As you may know, “search interoperability” is just a fancy way of saying that lots of scientific databases scattered far and wide can be made to work together so that your job as a seeker of science information is easy. You can go to one search box, say, type in your search term, and get results from over a hundred important repositories and a couple of thousand scientific websites – with one click.

And you know that this is a good thing, because as a practical matter, you cannot be expected to conjure in advance which database might hold the information you seek. Nor can you be expected to search dozens of sources one-by-one.

That would be an onerous task. Also, as an experienced seeker of quality science information, you are well aware that commercial search engines (read, Google, Bing, etc.) sometimes cannot mine the deep web for you, thus missing R&D results residing there (see Federated Search - The Wave of the Future?).

So achieving search interoperability with OSTI’s federated search tools, such as,, and the E-print Network, has been an important development, though by no means easily accomplished. There are myriad obstacles that can block information exchanges between systems.  (To learn more about the broad topic of interoperability and obstacles to exchanging information, see the Wikipedia article on interoperability.)

Specific to our world of scientific and technical information, the challenge of interoperability basically stems from the simple fact...

Related Topics: databases, E-Print Network (EPN), federation, interoperability, science,, (WWS)