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Office of Scientific and Technical Information

A Look at OSTI's Expansion in the Digital Era


For 75 years, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has continuously worked to increase scientific knowledge through easier access to federal research results. This dedication is evident in OSTI's deep-rooted history of creating and hosting inventive search tools and services.

Prior to the digital era, OSTI's predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) Technical Information Division (TID), operated one of the few federal printing plants in the United States. In 1948, TID began the production of the Nuclear Science Abstracts (NSA) journal, a world-renowned tool that provided coverage of unclassified nuclear information. Throughout its nearly 30-year tenure, NSA's quality of service to the nuclear community set a benchmark for future abstracting journals and international scientific and technical information (STI) management.

OSTI entered the Internet era with the creation of the first DOE home page in 1994. OSTI has made significant strides in the information age ever since, transitioning from hard copy to digital STI and developing and improving upon DOE's virtual library to meet the needs of the scientific community. In 1997, OSTI began building a collection of nine web-based searchable databases to categorize and offer access to a variety of STI types resulting from DOE research and development (R&D).

The two most popular products were the DOE Information Bridge and Energy Citations Database. The DOE Information Bridge was the first online system to provide searchable full-text and bibliographic records of DOE-sponsored research report literature. Originally made available to DOE and DOE contractors only, the Information Bridge was introduced to the public in April 1998. Shortly after, in 2002, the Energy Citations Database was created to provide bibliographic citations for energy and energy-related STI collected by DOE and its predecessor agencies.

As the Internet and the federal collection of R&D results expanded, OSTI began to identify gaps in the capabilities of typical search engines. At the time, popular, commercial search engines only indexed static pages on the "surface web" but could not pull dynamic results from scientific databases, such as OSTI's collection of products. In 2002, OSTI worked with a host of federal agencies to develop and then launch the interagency to resolve these concerns. The creation of was a milestone for DOE and, indeed, for most federal agencies, as it provided for the first time a unified search of the government's vast stores of STI from 30 unique federal databases.  Later, OSTI worked with commercial search engines to enable indexing of the deep content in its databases.  Still, provides the unique service of a real-time search of federally-funded research results.

In the wake of's success, OSTI forged international partnerships to deploy deep, federated search on a global scale.  Initially partnering with the British Library, OSTI launched, simultaneously searching 15 national scientific databases.  Forming the multilateral WorldWideScience Alliance in 2007, national libraries from these countries then supported the integration of multilingual translations technology in 2010. continues to serve the scientific community, now offering access to over 100 resources from over 70 countries.

In 2013, OSTI launched SciTech Connect to consolidate the contents of OSTI's most popular core products, DOE Information Bridge and Energy Citations. SciTech Connect was the primary search tool for DOE-funded results and contained over two million citations collected by OSTI over 65 years. SciTech Connect's semantic search tool allowed users to explore results related to their keywords, increasing the discoverability and accessibility of STI.

In 2018, OSTI's contemporary primary search tool, OSTI.GOV, replaced SciTech Connect and provided access to all of the DOE-funded R&D results previously available in SciTech Connect. OSTI.GOV was created to simplify the user search interface and unify OSTI's search tools.  Combining searches of text, data, software, and multimedia, OSTI.GOV is a key contributor to DOE's transparent, open science progress and to the broader open science objectives of the federal government.