Peaceful Nuclear Knowledge for All

The IAEA is celebrating this year the fortieth anniversary of its International Nuclear Information System (INIS), a database providing access to scientific literature published worldwide on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

When first launched in the 1970s, INIS was a trailblazer in the world of information exchange due to its key characteristic, its decentralized nature. Each Member submits their national published literature to INIS, resulting is a collection of existing worldwide international literature on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy made easily available to users. 

Over the past four decades, INIS has established itself as one of the key channels for obtaining and disseminating nuclear information. Its success is a success story for the IAEA, the organization under whose aegis the system has been operating, and its Member States. INIS´ enduring contribution to the IAEA´s mandate to “foster the exchange of scientific and technical information on the peaceful uses of atomic energy” results from INIS Members´ decade-long dedication in supplying the information that INIS then collates and disseminates. 

“The success of INIS is a tribute to its Members that have made it what it is today,” says Ruth Hahn-Weinert, Head of the IAEA Library and Acting Head of INIS and NKM. “Creating and providing access to a pool of trusted information is of particular importance when it comes to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology.” 

The impact INIS is having on the world´s nuclear sector should not be underestimated. The INIS Database contains over 3 million bibliographic records and a unique collection of over 250 000 full-text documents in 63 languages, including many documents that cannot easily be found anywhere else. As such, INIS fills a unique niche in the nuclear information landscape, providing a one-of-a-kind resource, which enables or facilitates safe, peaceful, and effective uses of nuclear energy. 

“The specialized, high-quality INIS database serves not only as a significant resource to support sustaining a resurgence in the profile of nuclear energy in the US but also as a valuable research and educational tool for government research organizations, the nuclear industry, nuclear ´academia´, and the public,” explains Brian Hitson, Associate Director for Administration and Information Services at the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), Department of Energy (DOE), and INIS Liaison Officer USA. 

Like all INIS members, the US is an active contributor to INIS. 

“The US INIS input centre – the Department of Energy´s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) – has provided a significant portion of the overall content of the INIS database since its founding by the Board of Governors in 1969,” explains Hitson. 

“Thanks to centralized INIS coverage of key international publishers of US nuclear journal literature, OSTI, in more recent years, has placed increasing emphasis on harder-to-find ´gray literature´ and, in particular, on providing access to electronic full text of nuclear literature not available from commercial publishers. OSTI has also been partnering with INIS on digitization of the historical collection.” 

INIS assists Member States in building the capacity of their national and regional INIS Centres by transferring knowledge and know-how in nuclear information handling and processing. 

“This way, the recipient INIS Centres become self-sufficient in providing relevant information services to support national nuclear programmes and activities,” says Taghrid Atieh, Leader of INIS´ Capacity Building and Liaison Group. 

While the methods by which INIS serves and reaches key stakeholders are expected to evolve with technology and users´ needs, the essential necessity of INIS will remain unchanged. 


INIS was designed as an international cooperative venture which requires the active participation of its members, investing human and financial resources in order to make it function. INIS started operations in 1970, when it produced its first products, with 25 Members. 

Current membership has reached 147 countries and international organisations, attesting to the success and usefulness of the system.