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Office of Scientific and Technical Information

OSTI's Role in Advancing National and International Open Science


Though the term "Open Science" may be relatively new, the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has long supported the notion that openness and collaboration drives innovation. OSTI has increased its role in Open Science by developing infrastructure and services not only to support the sharing of DOE scientific and technical information (STI) with the American public but also to improve and expand access to the STI of other U.S. agencies and information agencies around the world. Nuclear Science Abstracts, a publication produced from 1948 to 1976 by the organization that would come to be known as OSTI, laid the foundation for a future of providing timely access to the latest research.

The passage of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, coupled with President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Atoms-for-Peace initiative, ushered in a major expansion of OSTI's role on the international stage. The initiative supported making nuclear science research and technology available to all peaceful nations. Via the Atoms-for-Peace libraries program, one of the earliest projects of the initiative, OSTI prepared collections of atomic energy information and shipped them around the world to the principal technical libraries of the countries that requested them. Japan was the first country to request and receive an Atoms-for-Peace library. In exchange, countries that received Atoms-for-Peace libraries provided nuclear STI produced in their own country to the U.S., which OSTI processed for announcement in Nuclear Science Abstracts, driving the international exchange of STI—a distant prelude to the Open Science movement of the present.

As the Atoms-for-Peace initiative continued, it led to the successful development of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (link is external), which was chartered by the United Nations in 1956. Over the course of the 1960s, the IAEA worked in close consultation with OSTI to develop the International Nuclear Information System (INIS) (link is external), host to one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of nuclear STI, as well as its own abstract publication, Atomindex, which replaced Nuclear Science Abstracts as a truly international announcement publication. The decentralized data entry system used by member states of the IAEA to submit STI to INIS was largely informed by OSTI's experience and expertise, re-using adapted OSTI standards, authorities, thesauri, and other guidance. OSTI had an essential role in a majority of the Atoms-for-Peace initiative efforts, and contributed to subsequent developments borne out of it as well, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) (link is external), the Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDE) (link is external), Euratom (link is external), and more.

More recently, OSTI has continued to lead both nationally and internationally on improvements to and expansions of public access to STI. OSTI conceived and hosts the (link is external) gateway, which launched in 2002 and pioneered federated search technology in the federal government. enables users to perform real-time searches of over 60 databases from across 14 different U.S. agencies, with the real-time search results returning highly-authoritative and precise scientific information.

Building on the success of, OSTI led the charge on the launch of (link is external) in 2007. OSTI provides hosting and support for the international search gateway, which uses the same federated search technology to enable users to perform real-time multilingual searches of around 100 databases from over 70 countries, with the option to translate results into ten languages.

Through its work on national and international STI efforts, OSTI's historic commitment to making STI publicly accessible has made it an Open Science leader long before Open Science was defined and popularized as a concept. More recent activities, such as OSTI's persistent identifier services, are fully realizing the benefits of open science, enabling the core tenets of reproducibility and replicability by interlinking research objects such as publications, data, and software.