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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Eye on the net: new and notable From: Reference Reviews, Volume 23, Issue 4
If you are a reference librarian, especially a subject specialist in the sciences, you are probably familiar with Science.gov, a portal to science and scientific research information provided by the US Government. Science.gov is currently in its fifth iteration, and provides access to over 36 scientific databases, 200 million pages of scientific information, and over 1,800 scientific websites. However, Science.gov is only one of several such portals which are available internationally. Many of these portals are now accessible through the mega-search website WorldWideScience.org (see http://worldwidescience.org).
Born out of a partnership formed in late 2007 between the USA (specifically the US Department of Energy) and the UK (The British Library), WorldWideScience.org has grown into a multilateral alliance and now bills itself as a true global science gateway – a “federation of national science portals where research results are made available by participating nations”. There are currently 52 databases the website searches across, representing portals to scientific information from at least 56 countries. But what kinds of science collections participate in this project? Some of the latest additions to this federated search engine include Sri Lanka Journals Online (see www.sljol.info/index.php/index/search), Indonesia Journals Online (see www.ijonline.net/index.php/index/search), and the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN Document Server (see http://cdsweb.cern.ch/). The CERN Document Server alone provides access to approximately one million records. Almost a third of these are full-text documents pertaining to research in particle physics and other related areas.
The home page of WorldWideScience.org provides a clickable world map showing the countries participating in the project, with links to the websites of each database/portal from that country which contributes to the initiative. Participants in the initiative can also be viewed as an alphabetical list.
Much of the information that can be accessed through the gateway is open domain, and includes information in the fields of basic sciences, as well as energy, medicine, agriculture and environmental science. The WorldWideScience.org site works as a federated search engine, using a single query powered by DeepWeb to search across multiple databases and portals. The results returned display in order of relevance by default, but this can be changed to have them sort by date, title, author, or source. Since a large federated search such as this usually returns an inordinate number of results (e.g. a search for “avian influenza” returned over 50,000 hits), clusters (i.e. limiting by subject and date) are supported and available on the left margin of the results list. The right margin is (unfortunately) devoted to Wikipedia entries at the top, and a “EurekAlert!” link underneath that – a link to articles provided by this online, global news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Searchers can also limit to specific portals/databases, and there is also an advanced search feature.
WorldWideScience.org is maintained by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (a subsidiary of the US Department of Energy), and is far from static. More national and international science databases are constantly being sought and added, so look for this resource to increase in volume continually, providing more accessibility and a one-stop shop for scientific information.
Bethany LathamInternet Editor, Reference Reviews , and Assistant Professor and Electronic Resources/Documents Librarian, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama, USA