News from the Nuclear Information Section
International Nuclear Information System (INIS)  &  IAEA Library

No. 12, March 2012


The INIS Collection Search replaces the INIS Online Database

The 1st of September 2011 will go down in the history of INIS as a date when the old INIS Online Database (IODB), was replaced by the new INIS Collection Search (ICS) web application. This represents the most important outcome achieved in 2011 and can be considered one of the major improvements of the services provided to users since the establishment of the INIS Secretariat.

The past

The INIS Collection is made up of two parts: 3.3 million bibliographic records of scientific literature on peaceful use of nuclear energy and more than 300 000 full-text documents of 'grey' non-conventional literature (NCL), not readily available from sources other than INIS. The INIS Online Database has been available since 1998.

The IODB was built using BASIS© proprietary database software technology to store and search the INIS Collection. In the beginning, the system was accessible only upon subscription, thus its use was restricted. This limitation was removed in April 2009, when the INIS database was opened to Internet users worldwide.

Over the last years, the INIS Online Database has been continuously improved and new features have been added. Since 2010, increased usage impacted the performance of the system, making the IODB web interface slow and frequently unavailable to users. Furthermore, too much effort and time was required to keep it operational and it was not Unicode compliant.

The present

Following the recommendation of the 35th INIS Liaison Officers meeting, the new ICS has been built on top of Google Search Appliance© technology, hence offering better performance, reliability and ease of use. Bibliographic records in the INIS Collection can be searched by metadata fields such as abstract, author, country, descriptors, language and title and users can build and manage complex queries based on these fields. Full-text search of NCL documents was included, increasing the accuracy of search results.

Results obtained from different searches can be grouped and exported in standard output formats, while respective citations can be visualized and copied for further use. The web interface is accessible in different languages and simultaneous searches can be performed in multiple idioms as well. While the ICS is open to all without any subscription or fee, registered users can access additional features, such as creating their own profiles and saving their favourite queries and settings.

By integration with the Joint INIS/ETDE Thesaurus in the ICS, INIS users can now consult over 30 000 well defined nuclear terms and fine-tune queries before they are performed. The INIS Collection Search is also Unicode compliant, thus improving the quality of search results. The introduction of the ICS therefore removed one of the last barriers to Unicode compliance of the whole INIS data processing system.

A new INIS Collection Search widget has been created and can be integrated into third-party websites. The users of third-party sites can query the INIS Collection through the widget, thus being redirected to the ICS, where search results are displayed as if the query had been launched directly from the INIS Collection Search web interface.

The future

The INIS Collection Search has been well received by INIS users. A number of suggestions for further enhancements were identified and, while the web application has been already upgraded to a newer version at the end of 2011, INIS will continue investing in improving ICS’ existing functionalities as well as introducing new features.

Here are just some of the new developments planned for the following months:

  • Integration of the INIS Collection Search and the INIS Multilingual Thesaurus
  • The INIS Multilingual Thesaurus is a unique thesaurus in the nuclear field and is available in all six official languages of the IAEA, as well as in German. It is used for indexing and describing nuclear information and knowledge in a structured form. The descriptors in the INIS Multilingual Thesaurus will be available for the users to refine their queries before they are performed.

  • Full dynamic access to the remaining INIS authorities
  • The first two INIS authorities (languages and countries), have already been integrated in the INIS Collection Search. Following the same approach, the remaining three INIS authorities, namely subject categories, report prefixes and journals, will be integrated in the Advanced Search as well.
  • Extension of sources for the INIS Collection Search

Besides the actual INIS Collection, plans include collecting and indexing other information resources in the ICS.

The information gathered and maintained in the INIS Collection is a result of over 40 years of collaborative effort made by INIS and its Member States. We believe in committing our efforts to further enhancing the INIS Collection Search web interface, so that this impressive accumulated knowledge will be easier to access and made more useful, helping to better promote the peaceful use of nuclear information.

Domenico Pistillo
Acting Leader
Systems Development and Support Group