The findings from years of nuclear energy research supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) and predecessor agencies are being made searchable on the World Wide Web, due to a collaborative project between DOE and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). By adding valuable nuclear-related research to the online collections of both the DOE and the IAEA, access to this knowledge by researchers, academia and the public interested in the peaceful aspects of nuclear energy is greatly facilitated.
As part of its knowledge preservation mandate, the IAEA, through the International Nuclear Information System (INIS), is digitizing historic nuclear energy research documents dating from 1970 through the early 1990s. These documents have been provided by member states over the years, including more than 180,000 documents from the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI). OSTI, within the Office of Science, is the U.S. representative to INIS and has had its own digitization focus in recent years.
This novel partnership highlights the longstanding mutual benefits of DOE participation in INIS. In essence, it opens up previous research on the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy by making it freely and quickly available to scientists and engineers worldwide to help meet and solve today’s energy and security challenges.
OSTI receives frequent requests for legacy nuclear energy-related documents, according to OSTI Director Walt Warnick. “There is a misperception that all science documents are readily accessible via the web. They are not. Much science remains hard to find and retrieve as it is recorded only in paper format. Thanks to the partnership between DOE and IAEA, this situation is changing, and the research for peaceful uses of nuclear energy is becoming more accessible online. This tremendous body of knowledge is thus enjoying a renaissance of use and interest, and science progress will accelerate.”
Prior to the electronic era, where most documents are “born digital,” OSTI provided research results in microfiche form to INIS and various depository libraries throughout the U.S. While OSTI and the DOE community have digitized a portion of these older reports in recent years, INIS has made major inroads in digitizing a significant volume. Reflecting the spirit of partnership, INIS provides electronic copies to the originating country for its own use in addition to providing access through its database at the IAEA in Vienna. Thus, the U.S. documents are being provided to OSTI for accessibility through the OSTI databases and Science.gov.
“Thanks to the collaborative work of the IAEA and its member states, scientists and students in the nuclear field now have instant access to important research and technical information over the internet,” said IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy Yury Sokolov. “Our INIS programme continues to work to preserve and provide access to publications and documents on the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.”
To date, nearly 50,000 U.S. technical reports have been digitized through this partnership–results stemming from billions of dollars of research and development–and posted on the DOE Information Bridge (www.osti.gov/bridge), which provides free public access to approximately 210,000 full-text documents. This progress, combined with the OSTI digitization efforts, represents about one-half of the documents slated for eventual web accessibility.
INIS was established to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The INIS Database (http://inisdb2.iaea.org/) contains 3.1 million bibliographic records and 225,000 full-text documents and was opened to the public for free, unrestricted, online access in April 2009.
The DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information was established to make research accessible and useable so that science can more rapidly advance.