Disseminating Energy Information
RALPH L. SCOTT
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION
A well-educated populace, a collaborative mindset, high-quality and readily available information, and collaborative tools and technology are variables in the equation underlying the nation's long-term economic health and development. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is using electronic tools to bring scientific and technical information to the desktops of researchers and the homes of the U.S. public, thereby fueling collaboration and long-term prosperity. These efforts are occurring within DOE's Office of Science and Technology Information, which has existed for some 51 years. Its job, ever since the Manhattan Project, has primarily been to pull together information that DOE researchers have generated and make it available to the public in a way that contributes to research and economic development.
Clearly, the DOE as a whole is in the information business. The results of the R&D programs it funds are its principal product. Research begins with a determination of the scientific holes that need to be filled. Performing that research and reporting it to the science and technology community allow its members to build on the results for the public's benefit.
The process of disseminating results from DOE's R&D programs has proved difficult. The agency originally used microfiche and 35 mm films to share information. It has also created libraries and organized conferences, but we also believe collaboration is imperative. Toward that end we are desperately trying to lead the Department into the information age to ensure that energy-related information, from outside sources as well as DOE, is directly available to the community.
We are creating a virtual library that we believe will significantly aid the worldwide research community. The basic element of this library is the Energy Files, which will provide the foundation of a National Library of Energy Science and Technology. Energy Files provides one-stop access to some 400 information repositories at DOE laboratories and international sites gleaned from exchange agreements with over 120 different countries. We have also created Open-Net, which makes declassified information from the department's nuclear weapons programs available to the public.
Users of Energy Files can search the full text of electronic journals, citations, and preprints as well as energy engineering standards and databases. The system
also provides information on regulatory issues. Energy Files sees substantial use, receiving about 70,000 hits a month. Over 70 percent of these queries come from outside the government, attesting to the depth of public interest. Machine translation turns literature in 10 foreign languages into English. We are also working on push technology. When a user enters a topic of interest, he or she is notified electronically if more information becomes available on the Web.
The Information Bridge, a key aspect of the Energy Files, is a unique Web site that includes 28,000 energy-related full-text reports totaling some 2 million pages. Users can search this collection to find reports containing information of interest and gain access to—and download—those pages. This Web site is growing: the legacy collection dates from January 1974, but the full collection will eventually encompass material from the early 1940s—a formidable information resource.
DOE has made the Information Bridge publicly available through a collaborative effort with the U.S. Government Printing Office. Use of the bridge requires no passwords or registration. The agency is now working with several publishers, including Science magazine, to provide hyperlinks to the full-texts of electronic journals devoted to energy R&D, including references listed in the articles. We are working to make the search engine as effective as possible by incorporating new scientific terms as they come into use.
The site also includes R&D summaries that enable users to find out about more than 15,000 active DOE projects and locate someone with whom to discuss the research. This site records some 800 hits daily. The overall goal is to put a comprehensive source of energy-related information at people's fingertips to support the collaborative mindset central to scientific work in the next century.