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Sharing Data Leads to Progress

by Nena Moss 19 Aug, 2010 in Personal Perspectives

My mother died in March 2010 after a 15-year battle with Alzheimer’s, so I pay particular attention to news about this dreadful disease. A recent New York Times article caught my eye: “Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer's.”

How did sharing data lead to progress on Alzheimer’s?  A collaborative effort, the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, was formed to find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain. The key was to share all the data, making every finding public immediately – “available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.”
Alzheimer’s research is an enormous task with limited returns. Dr. Michael W. Weiner of the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs said “Different people using different methods on different subjects in different places were getting different results, which is not surprising. What was needed was to get everyone together and to get a common data set.” Numerous entities were willing to shoulder the burden and work together on the project, sharing their information for the good of all.
 According to Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, “It’s not science the way most of us have practiced it in our careers. But we all realized that we would never get biomarkers unless all of us parked our egos and intellectual-property noses outside the door and agreed that all of our data would be public immediately.” The National institutes of Health served as an “honest broker, between the pharmaceutical industry and academia.”
 The effort has produced “a wealth of recent scientific papers on the early...

Related Topics: ADNI, Alzheimer's, biomarkers, collaboration, corollary, data, disease, initiative, mission, neuroimaging, osti, research, sharing


Making the Web Work Even Better for Energy R&D

The Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) maintains several collections of scientific and technical information (STI) that can be employed to help achieve the President's national objectives for the U.S. Department of Energy.

OSTI's databases are important resources for scientists and engineers working to strengthen America's role as the world leader in science and technology, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy security and enhance nuclear security. OSTI has shown that the web can work better for science and research and development - and OSTI believes that making the web work still better for science and R&D will help overcome critical roadblocks to widespread, cost-effective deployment of emerging or existing but under-deployed energy technologies.

OSTI's Progress to Date

Established in 1947, the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information ( fulfills the agency's responsibilities to collect, preserve and disseminate scientific and technical information (STI) emanating from DOE R&D activities. OSTI's mission is to advance science and sustain creativity by making R&D findings available to DOE and other researchers and the public. In the words of Section 982 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, "The Secretary, through the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, shall maintain with the Department publicly available collections of scientific and technical information resulting from research, development, demonstration, and commercial applications supported by the Department."

OSTI is founded on the principle that science progresses only if knowledge is shared, and the OSTI Corollary - accelerating the sharing of knowledge accelerates the advancement of science - takes OSTI's founding principle to the next level. (See OSTI's FY 2009-2013 Strategic Plan,...

Related Topics: osti, sti


OSTI Lights Candles

Despite DOE's frequent leadership in science and technology (think "human genome" or winning 46 of the "R&D 100" awards in 2009), it's widely acknowledged within DOE that the public isn't particularly aware of DOE's role.  Not that we in DOE are shamelessly craving a little credit, but in a representative government, an informed and supportive public is essential to sustain DOE's important programs.  In terms of public awareness, it is as though the DOE program unintentionally operates in the dark.

By disseminating DOE's R&D results to the public, including those who do not customarily have access to subscription journals of science and technology ,OSTI plays a role in making such results useful and visible to the public.  Dissemination to the public is OSTI's mission as defined by  law.  One inevitable consequence of OSTI pursuing its mission is that DOE's R&D program becomes better known beyond the inner circles of the science and technology community.

For a number of years now, OSTI's information transactions have been increasing exponentially, reaching 84 million in FY 2008  (see OSTI's web metrics ). To my way of thinking, this is tantamount to OSTI lighting 84 million candles that shine on DOE's R&D results and illuminate R&D breakthroughs for the public.  This is just the beginning, we are doing everything we can to accelerate this exponential growth into the future and further increase awareness of DOE R&D results by the public.  As the old saying goes, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.


Related Topics: doe, osti, r&d results


Customized Services for the Department of Energy Research Community

While the majority of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information's (OSTI) activities are focused on making the Department of Energy's (DOE) scientific and technical information widely accessible, OSTI also provides special services to the Department and its contractor community. 

For example, in instances where it is important to protect certain types of information while at the same time ensuring that qualified members of the DOE research community are able to access the data, OSTI provides specialized databases and information services.  Using a variety of capabilities and search options, qualified patrons can access approximately 4.5 million domestic and international energy-related bibliographic records as well as over 200,000 full-text documents spanning more than six decades of DOE research. When researchers locate a report and need electronic access to a document that is available only in hard copy, they can request that OSTI scan the document and make it available electronically. OSTI will perform this service for eligible requesters without charge to them. In this fashion, OSTI is able to expand its collection of electronically available documents based on the immediate needs (requests) of the Department's research scientists.

If you work for DOE or are a DOE contractor, you may benefit from this specialized service. For more information and to take advantage of these services, please visit

Debbie Nuchols


Related Topics: doe, doe contractor, electronic access, information services, osti


Surfing the Internet Gets Deep

WorldWideScience provides a one-stop search engine to mine global scientific databases in the deep web

The internet has revolutionized society by changing the way people communicate, find information, and enjoy entertainment. But a standard internet search misses at least 90 percent of the information available. 

The internet is separated into two unequal pools of information. The surface web contains pages of information that are utilized by popular search engines. The second pool of information is locked away in the deep web, which consists of countless databases world wide.

According to Walt Warnick, Director of the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), "The deep web is huge."

Common browsers like Google and Yahoo crawl across the thousands of internet pages on the surface web, but are unable to dig into the databases to retrieve information from the deep web.

"Asking a scientist, engineer, or educator to find information in their field using common web browsers is like asking a doctor to diagnose disease without X-rays, MRI, or any other piece of diagnostic equipment" said Warnick.

Information in the deep web can only be mined for data using search engines designed for that particular database. Many of the search engines that are available to mine databases often do not use relevance ranking, making filtering through the information a crap shoot.

"Under the current system, finding information in the deep web is a series of practical impossibilities, placing internet users, especially scientists and science educators, at a severe disadvantage" said Warnick.

To address the global science need, OSTI has launched, a science gateway that accelerates the search for data in national and international scientific databases and portals...

Related Topics: china, doe, osti, (WWS)


Tool Supports OSTI Mashups

Did you know that science information is available via web "mashups"? Web "mashups" combine multiple products/services into a single application for the purpose of consolidating information with an easy-to-use interface.

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) uses "mashups" to return search results from Science Accelerator,, and These "mashups" include external sources of information, in these cases from Wikipedia and EurekAlert!, that are provided as a service to the user for help with additional background information or with the ability to further study their topic.

These "mashups" are made possible by OSTI's use of a federated search to perform all-encompassing searches of important databases and collections. Science Accelerator searches U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) databases of scientific and technical information representing billions of dollars of DOE research. searches U.S. government agency scientific databases and web pages. searches national and international scientific databases and portals.

Federated searching provides each of the three products with one-stop simultaneous searching of multiple networked data resources via a single query. When a query is entered, it is sent to selected databases, collections, and/or web portals that are available for searching. The individual data resources send back results, which are ranked in relevance order and are provided to the user as "mashups". Users can examine these "mashups" to find specific results that contain information that is useful to...

Related Topics: doe, mashup, osti, Science Accelerator,, (WWS)


Dynamically OSTI--Web 2.0 -- Enabling Information-Enabling Users-Enabling Acceleration

Fluidity is about being flexible, variable, graceful and agile. OSTI as an organization is fluid. We are listening to the scientist, the researcher, the educator, the librarian, and the science attentive citizen.  What do they need?  What do they want?  How can scientific and technical information reach them when and how they desire it?  How can we make their work better, faster and easier? This OSTI agility means that switching gears midstream and going with the Web 2.0 flow to meet the needs and expectations of the public, is something just our speed.  The Wikipedia definition of Web 2.0 states that "[i]t is characterized as facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web." Web 2.0. Wikipedia. (retrieved June 4, 2009).  What better fit to the OSTI Corollary "speeding the sharing of knowledge will accelerate the advancement of science"than the techniques and technology of Web 2.0? 


To speed the sharing of knowledge, OSTI is facilitating communication through blogging, audio, podcast, and video sharing.  We are also engaged in information sharing via widgets, alert systems, RSS, XML and OAI services.  These tools compliment a variety of our scientific and technical information products, such as DOE R&D Accomplishments and DOepatents...

Related Topics: osti, osti corollary, podcast, rss, web 2.0, widgets


What's in the OSTI Legacy Collection?

by Tim Byrne 20 Mar, 2009 in Products and Content

The DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information legacy collection contains an estimated one million technical reports representing six decades of energy research that is, for the most part, unavailable in electronic format.  On average, OSTI receives close to two hundred requests each month to digitize specific reports, with the vast majority of the requests coming from DOE employees and contractors.  The legacy collection represents an enormous investment in research and development from the Atomic Energy Commission, Energy Research and Development Administration and Department of Energy.  With the growing tendency of many researchers to rely solely on research information available electronically, this incredibly valuable resource collection is often ignored.  By not having electronic access to previous research, scientific advancement may be diminished and funds wasted duplicating what has already been done. 


OSTI has recently implemented the Adopt-a-Doc program that allows the general public to pay for the digitization of a document of their choosing.  Documents in need of digitization can be identified by searching the Energy Citations Database and clicking on the Materials available for digitization box on the Fielded Search window.  This is proving to be a popular service.  Unfortunately, with the level of digitization that OSTI can currently handle, it will take a very long time to digitize the entire legacy collection.


The birth of the OSTI legacy collection really began with the declassification and distribution of reports from the Manhattan Project.  Following the end of World War II, our nation was inquisitive and interested in the government's hitherto top-secret program on...

Related Topics: Adopt-A-Doc, AEC, digitization, doe, Energy Citations Database (ECD), erda, legacy collection, Nobel Prize, osti


OSTI is Committed to Facilitating Science Research

by Karen Spence 04 Dec, 2008 in Technology

is driven! We are fully committed to providing scientists and
researchers with the social networking tools and services that can
make it easier for them to more rapidly advance their scientific
research. We have a number of exciting ongoing initiatives in support
of accelerating the evolution of science. Here are ten that come to

  1. We
    are committed to forming relationships with universities, both the
    technical research departments and the supporting research
    libraries, to make sure that the university research community is
    aware of the many products and services that OSTI has to help them
    in their research endeavors.

  2. We
    are committed to providing the bells and whistles for various
    products that make those products user friendly.

  3. We
    aim to make it easy for scientists to keep up with new research
    efforts so we are actively investigating new and innovative ways to
    deliver information through RSS feeds, alert services, and other

  4. We
    are investigating the use of clustering...

    Related Topics: doe, osti


China Joins the WorldWideScience Alliance: Why This is Important

On October 14, OSTI announced that the People's Republic of China had joined the WorldWideScience Alliance. The press release making the announcement described, and hinted at, the importance of China's contribution:

China, a major producer of journals and conference proceedings, is offering searches of key Chinese English-language scientific literature through The Chinese resource enables searching of over 6,000 journals., the global science gateway managed by the WorldWideScience Alliance, is intended to enhance scientific communication in order to accelerate international scientific progress by serving as a single, sophisticated point of access for diverse scientific resources and expertise from nations around the world.


The Importance of China's Participation

The addition of China is a notable milestone for a number of reasons.

China is a major global contributor to scientific knowledge. Thomson Reuters makes the point clearly:

According to citation analysis based on data from Web of Science, China is ranked second in the world by number of scientific papers published in 2007. Scientific's World IP Today Report on Global Patent Activity 2007 reported that China almost doubled its volume of patents from 2003 to 2007, and...

Related Topics: doe, osti, (WWS)