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The Science Knowledge Imperative: Making non-Googleable Science Findable

Just as science progresses only if knowledge is shared, accelerating the sharing of knowledge accelerates science. All of us engaged in disseminating science knowledge have the opportunity and obligation to do our jobs better, for to do so accelerates science itself. 

To this end, I propose a grand challenge--to make more science available to, and searchable by, more people than ever before. A momentous milestone will be achieved once we enable everyone with web access the ability to search with unparalleled precision a billion pages of authoritative science. Already, considerable progress has been made.  

My organization, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is responsible for the scientific and technical information operations of the Department. Over the last 11 years, OSTI has become entirely web-based. Of course, we are just one among many entities who connect people to knowledge using the web. Most notably, Google, Yahoo!, and other conventional search engine providers do this, too.

Google and other conventional search engines do for the web what publishers have long done for books--they create an index so that customers can quickly find information. Web users value this service so highly that search companies have become phenomenally successful enterprises. 

However, an important misunderstanding has sprung up about Google and the others. That is, the false presumption, especially among young people, that most useful information is available via conventional search engines such as Google and Yahoo!

In fact, much of the information on the web is inherently unavailable to Google and Yahoo! This key limitation would come as a surprise to...

Related Topics: crawling, E-Print Network (EPN), federated search, google, science,, (WWS)


Forms of STI - pt. 2

by Tim Byrne 20 Jun, 2008 in Products and Content

In the first part to this post, Forms of STI,  I talked about how there are different forms of scientific and technical information and how each is published and disseminated in its own way.  OSTI has different search tools to access the different types of STI.  In the last post I discussed technical reports.  Now I will cover journal literature, conference proceedings and papers, and e-prints, defining each and pointing out the OSTI  search tools that covers each.

Journal literature:

The publication of research in scientific journals started in the mid seventeenth century.  Before that and for some time after, scientific and technical information was circulated via letters, printed tracts and books.  Journals became a preferred medium because journal publishers worked to achieve wider dissemination and faster publication.  Today, however, even with the tremendous growth in scientific journals in the later half of the twentieth century, publishing in scientific journals is most often not a speedy process.  It can often take a year of more for an article to be published once it has been accepted by a journal.  For this reason, many scientists and engineers also utilize other means to share their research.  Options include technical reports, conference papers, pre-prints and a growing use of e-prints.

From 1948 to 1976, the Atomic Energy Commission published Nuclear Science Abstracts, providing comprehensive indexing of the international nuclear science literature, including journal literature on a worldwide basis.  This literature can now be found using Energy Citations Database.  ECD...

Related Topics: conference papers, conference proceedings, E-Print Network (EPN), e-prints, Energy Citations Database (ECD), Energy Files, Information Bridge (IB), journal articles, osti, Science Conference Proceedings,, sti


Forms of STI

by Tim Byrne 19 Jun, 2008 in Products and Content

A comment I have heard on numerous occasions is that OSTI has a too many databases and search tools and it is difficult to know which to use.  Well, I am sure that a lot of people do find the variety of OSTI resources to be a bit confusing, but it really takes different types of databases and search tools to cover all the different types of scientific and technical information (STI).  Scientific and technical information has many forms, such as journal articles, technical reports, patents and e-prints.  Each has its own publication route which requires its own method of acquisition.

A traditional library is built by compiling a collection of books and periodicals for use by library patrons.  In the electronic world, collections have expanded beyond the walls of the library.  OSTI is able to create two different types of electronic collections.  The first type is more like a traditional library in that OSTI compiles a collection of STI produced by or funded under the provenance of the Department of Energy on an OSTI computer.  OSTI controls what goes into these collections and in what format.  The OSTI databases that are of this sort include the full text documents in the Information Bridge and the bibliographic citations and summaries created for the Energy Citations Database, DOEpatents, and the DOE R&D Project Summaries.  The second type of electronic collection is a virtual collection of STI outside of DOE.  These collections contain STI that is of interest to DOE, but, for the most part, is not produced by DOE.  The citations and full text documents in these virtual collections reside on the Internet in servers all over the world.  OSTI has identified the locations of the STI and provides a means to search...

Related Topics: conference papers, conferences, DOE Research and Development (R&D) Project Summaries, DOepatents, E-Print Network (EPN), e-prints, Energy Citations Database (ECD), Information Bridge (IB), journal articles, patents, proceedings, project summaries, Science Accelerator, Science Conference Proceedings,, sti, technical reports, theses, (WWS)


OSTI's contribution to international discovery:

On June 22, 2007, OSTI opened, a global science gateway, to the public. was an ambitious undertaking and OSTI was the perfect organization to take on the technical, administrative, and organizational challenges to take a powerful idea and bring it to fruition. is a federation of national science portals; participating nations make research results available to citizens and scientists of all nations. Speeding global access to scientific information speeds discovery, encourages collaboration, and accelerates revolutionary advances in science. allows searching of 32 databases, comprising more than 200 million pages, from 44 cooperating countries. Federated search technology allows users to simultaneously search the 200 million pages from all 32 databases in real-time with a single query. is modeled after OSTI's, a gateway to over 50 million pages of authoritative research and development results and other selected science information provided by U.S. government agencies. Much like,'s content is aggregated from cooperating organizations. For, 17 scientific and technical organizations from 13 federal agencies participate in the Alliance and contribute the content. has evolved through several...

Related Topics: icsti, International Council for Scientific and Technical Information,, (WWS)


The Role of Federated Search at OSTI

by Sol Lederman 19 Feb, 2008 in Technology

Federated search is very much at the heart of OSTI's ability to realize its mission. OSTI provides a simple description of what federated search is and how it works in the OSTI environment. The best way to experience the tremendous value of federated search at OSTI is to try several of OSTI's flagship applications:

These, and all, federated search applications search databases "live", which means there is no delay or "lag time" between when a collection is updated by its owner and when the new content can be searched. Science Accelerator provides searchable access to a number of science databases that OSTI manages. Its aim is to accelerate science discovery by greatly reducing the time and effort required for researchers to find relevant science information. was OSTI's break-through federated search product; the first version was launched in December 2002. provides access to more than 50 million pages of science information from 17 scientific and technical organizations via the collaboration of 13 federal agencies. WorldWideScience is a global science gateway to national and international scientific databases.

The technology used to mine content from the deep web is called "federated search." While federated search is not the only search technology...

Related Topics: federated search, osti, Science Accelerator,, (WWS)


Mixing, Coffee, and a Laptop


Yesterday my son had an emergency appendectomy - these days a pretty routine procedure. But far from routine was the array of drugs offered to get him through the long night ahead.

What were the side effects behind these strange-sounding names? How would they affect his recovery? Would all these drugs interact minus a negative outcome? And were they even necessary?

Happily, my job is community outreach for OSTI which hosts So, armed with a laptop in a corner coffee shop with wifi connectivity, I knew I could log onto for a quick and thorough search of government science information.

Why not Google or Yahoo? Well, certainly I could get science information from many of the popular science engines. In fact, I often use these sites in combination with for an extensive and comprehensive search. But I didn't want to spend a lot of time sorting through Internet noise on popular Web searches. (No drug ads, no hits on the drug habits of rock bands!) I simply wanted information that was directly related to the drugs my son might take that night. And I wanted the information quickly so I could get back to the hospital room and spend time with my son. So I chose

Of note: is a lot more than medical info. You can find winter weather safety tips, science internships, supernova Web sites ... all kinds of science information available for free.

Final word: Happy 5th Anniversary!

Cathey Daniels, OSTI Editor

Related Topics: medical information, osti,