Walt Warnick, Ph.D., Director
Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Department of Energy
ICSTI General Assembly
22 June 2007
Demonstration of a Global Science Gateway: WorldWideScience.org
Dr. Warnick: Thank you for that introduction. I want to thank Herbert Guttemeir for inviting me to make this special presentation. It is my pleasure to be back before the ICSTI General Assembly to talk about this opportunity to accelerate global knowledge diffusion. It was one year ago at the ICSTI General Assembly at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, that I introduced the concept of a global science gateway. The British Library embraced the vision.
Dr. Raymond Orbach, Under Secretary for Science, and Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library sign a Statement of Intent to partner in the development of a searchable global science gateway.
In January 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy and the British Library signed a statement of intent, in London, England, to partner in this challenging endeavor.
Signed Statement of Intent
At the time of the signing, we extended invitations to other nations to join the partnership, and committed to delivering a prototype by the end of 2007. We have been working hard and are ahead of schedule. Since the January event, we have been contacted by a number of countries eager to participate.
Flags of Current National Partners
In addition, we have identified scientific databases around the world that are ideal for the prototype. We have reached out to those countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States. As a result of this meeting today and other efforts to promote this global gateway, we hope the flags of many other nations will soon be waving in support of this effort.
Today, we unveil for the first time, a new tool for making science more accessible world-wide. It is called WorldWideScience.org. We will do some searches shortly. WorldWideScience is in its infancy, but already it includes 15 national science portals. Where once we had isolated portals, they now work as a unit, an integrated whole. Even at this early stage, WorldWideScience.org searches across more than 200 million pages of important scientific databases worldwide. That's a lot of science information accessible from one search box. WorldWideScience relies on a technology called federated search. This is the first time (of which we're aware) that federated searching has been accomplished on a global scale.
Federated search opens up a part of the Web that is non-Googleable. Google by-and-large does not search scientific databases. So until today, information consumers faced the tedious task of visiting portals door-to-door. Without WorldWideScience.org to search the national portals, the information customer would typically first need to know that each portal existed (unlikely) and then search each gateway one at a time (highly impractical).
WorldWideScience.org changes all this; with WorldWideScience.org you need not know the name of portals, and you need not search them door-to-door. Instead, you can search portal upon portal in parallel, with only one query, saving time and effort. When you place a query on WorldWideScience, that query is forwarded to each of the 15 portals. The results of the searches of all the portals are then compiled and ranked for you. WorldWideScience.org will speed communication, accelerate discovery and expedite scientific and economic progress.
Of course, there is much to be done. The world is dotted with large and often isolated, Web-based collections of scientific information. Once found, any one of these databases can be searched. But finding specific databases is a challenge, and searching them all collectively, until just recently, was only a dream. Now this dream is within reach.
We are already off to a great start. In addition to the American and British sources searchable through WorldWideScience.org, this is the current listing of sources from other participating countries:
• Australia, which is providing access to its Antarctic Data Centre
• Brazil, providing a Brazilian scientific journals database
• Canada, providing access to the databases of the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information and Defense Research and Development Canada
• Denmark, providing access to an e-prints database and a research in progress database
• France, providing access to the research of the National Center for Scientific Research
• Germany, providing access to Vascoda, a portal to scholarly research information sponsored by the German Research Foundation and managed by TIB-Hannover
• The Netherlands, providing access to NARCIS, a portal to Dutch scientific information; and
• Japan, providing access to several databases of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.
I want to thank all the owners of these resources. In particular, from the United Kingdom, David Brown, UK PubMed Central; from the USA, Eleanor Frierson and Tom Lahr – co-chairs of Science.gov; Brian Hitson, Associate Director of OSTI, will lead us through some searches; Pam Bjorenson, Canada; Herbert Guttemeir, France; Marcell Bremer, Germany; Mr. Fukasawa and colleagues, Japan.
Dr. Warnick presented a demo of WorldWideScience.org
Next Steps for WorldWideScience.org
You've seen a basic demonstration, now up and running, of the power of federated searching across national boundaries. Of course, we won't stop here. Assuming nations want to move this prototype into a sustained, permanent global portal, we need to establish a governance structure. This structure will fulfill the need to make decisions about the system's content, features, availability, and funding.
We could certainly expect that a governing body will want to increase the number of national sources searched. We also anticipate adding non-English sources with a translations capability. And, finally, there are many sources that require some form of user authentication, and we would envision tools that will facilitate authentication to allow for searching of these sources through this portal.
We are pleased to announce that WorldWideScience.org is now publicly open! We thank those countries who have already joined in as pioneers in this endeavor, and we welcome additional partners. Please visit WorldWideScience.org.
Two kinds of participation are needed:
1. More databases
2. Help with governance