WorldWideScience, a Cut above the World Wide Web

Are you still looking for a reliable federated search tool that goes beyond the run-of-the-mill results? Do you miss searching Scirus by Elsevier? might be a worthwhile alternative to explore. Developed and maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), has partnerships with many national and international science portals and one can search the interface in ten different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Searching multiple sources, displays results based on their relevance order.

Search Functionality:

The interface has a clean look and one can conduct a basic search or an advanced search with more control on the 102 sources of information being queried. Trying the exact same search at different times does not yield the same result as scours the “deep web” in real time. The English sources include databases such as, CERN Document Server, Canada Institute for Scientific and Technology Information, European PubMed Central, Indian Academy of Science. The multilingual sources include portals such as German National Library of Science and Technology in German, OpenAIRE in a handful of languages, or VINITI Earth Sciences and Environmental Management Projects in Russian. Note that also scrapes multimedia and data sources. Australian Antarctic Data Center,, DataCite, DRYAD, or Invasive Species Compendium are among the fourteen data sources.

The following screenshot shows the advanced-search interface. The full-record option searches across the entire content of the document. Also, supports Boolean operators and other specificity commands such as truncation or phrasal searches.

Search 1 WorldWideScience

Let’s try a few searches to gain some insight into this tool. It is important to note again that the search results of the same search parameters are rarely identical. As churns the 102 sources, it asks the searcher if she wants to see additional results beyond the first display of hits. This might be a helpful feature to minimize information overload.

First search:

Without displaying the additional results, searching “Isle Royale National Park” as Full Record yields 66 papers and 49 data sources. Regarding papers (document type: articles, reports, etc.), the first 40 displayed results seem to be to the point; the rest probably has some mentioning of the search term in its document. The first twenty data results has some mentioning of Isle Royale National Park in the title. The rest, such as the DNA sequences from the DNA Data Bank of Japan, shows that the sample originates from Isle Royale.

Second Search:

Without displaying the additional results, “Isle Royale National Park” as a title search yields a bit less papers (45) and data (13). The following screen shows some of the facets in which one can narrow down the results. The visual display tab groups the results based on the “topics” category.

Search 2 World Wide Science

Third search:

“isle royale national park” AND (wolf OR wolves) as a title search yields 20 papers, 60 multimedia sources, and 120 data sources. The 20 paper results seem less about Isle Royale National Park and do not contain the search terms in their titles. The 60 multimedia results have no relevance to the topic. They are mostly academic lectures from a German-based TIB AV-Portal. The data results are also misleading as they have less to do with wolves and Isle Royale National Park. The “wolf” part in the title search inadvertently picks up results related to Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

Note that adding an additional layer of parentheses in the search of (“isle royale national park” AND (wolf OR wolves)) also yields many misleading results in all three categories: papers, multimedia and data.

Fourth Search:

Without displaying additional results, a title-search of “photovoltaic solar cost” (assuming the tool takes these terms with AND operator) yields 151 papers, 99 multimedia, and 100 data records. The results from all three categories seem much more to-the-point than the search of Isle Royale National Park and wolves. Perhaps searching could be more effective and relevant in certain subject-specific topics than others.

Additional Features: will display Wikipedia and AAAS EurekAlert articles/reports based on its interpretation of the search. Since curates results from national scientific portals, most of the results are available to the public. Only a small portion of the retrieved journal articles poses restrictive access from proprietary publishers. One can also create a search alert to have new results delivered by e-mails.

Overall is another one-stop-shopping platform that one should consider when searching for publications, data, and media files from governmental and international scientific domains. While the provided results might not be exactly what you are looking for, it is worth checking, in addition to your dutiful exploration of other discipline-specific databases.

Khue D. Duong, Science Librarian, California State University, Long Beach,

We welcome your comments and suggestions. If you have a resource that you would like to see highlighted please leave us a comment.


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