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

No. 13, September 2012


The History of the INIS Collection Search

The INIS Collection Search (ICS) is “the free and open web access to the INIS Collection”. This was the definition chosen to present the ICS during the 2011 IAEA General Conference. Behind this simple definition there is a significant amount of work was done during the last two years to develop a strong web search application. This article looks into the history of the ICS, describing its powerful functionalities.

The implementation of the INIS Collection Search web application followed the recommendation of the 35th INIS Liaison Officer (ILO) meeting to have the Google Search Appliance (GSA) as the underlining search technology for the entire INIS collection. In October 2010, the first presentation of an alternative technology was given to the ILOs, who gave their approval to replace the BASIS search technology previously used by the INIS Online Database (IODB).

In April 2011, the first release of the ICS was completed and made available to the nuclear information community. The rationale behind the release was to maintain the most important functionalities available in the IODB, while taking advantage of the world's leading search technology, and the increased speed and ease of use of the GSA. The result was a tool capable of supporting multilingual queries, searches by metadata fields and Boolean searches. The introduction of the Advanced Search made it possible to build complex queries. However, the main improvement, at that time, was the ability to perform full text indexing and searches within the PDF documents of the non-conventional literature collection, which drastically increased the effectiveness of the search results.

The users positive feedback of the first version of the ICS generated new ideas. Efforts to improve the application resulted in a new project to develop version 2 of the ICS. The project was aimed at deploying a set of new features. Three different sub-releases were deployed in 2011.

In July, the ICS version 2.1 went live, introducing user profiles which allowed users to register and create their own set of saved queries. This feature moved away from the old concept of email notification, offering the users a more sophisticated control tool. The results obtained from multiple searches were available for export in different formats and the download of bibliographic records in citation format was also implemented. The latter functionality fulfilled past requirement from ILOs, not previously available in the IODB.

The two main aspects which drove the improvements of the ICS in the following releases were integration and usability. Three months later, a newer release of ICS included, among other new features, the integration of the INIS Collection and the INIS/ETDE English Thesaurus, with over 30 000 well defined nuclear terms, allowing one entry point to the two main INIS products.

The end of 2011 coincided with the end of the ICS version 2 project, culminating in release 2.3 of the web application. This version focused on improving usability of and accessibility to the search engine. Internationalization of the ICS was achieved through a multilingual user interface available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian and Spanish. A new cross-language search functionality allowed users to perform simultaneous searches in multiple languages, thus increasing the accuracy of the resulting records.

Given the success of the ICS, the Nuclear Information Section (NIS) continued to improve existing and develop new functionalities for the web search engine. The highest level of integration among all INIS products was reached with ICS version 3.1, released at the end of March 2012. The INIS Multilingual Thesaurus, with descriptors in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Japanese, and the remaining INIS authorities - subject categories, journals and report prefixes - were made accessible and searchable through the ICS Advanced search interface.

The current version of the ICS was released at the end of July 2012. A new chapter started with version 3.2 with the introduction of several innovative features, such as: dynamic filtering of search results, translating bibliographic records in different languages, creating RSS 2.0 feeds subscriptions, and associating chosen result sets with user profiles for later consultation or export.

A new concept to explore is not only the integration, but also the extension of information resources. Over 90 000 IAEA Library bibliographic records were added to the INIS Collection Search. This enables a simplified and more efficient single access point to both the INIS and IAEA Library collections.

Nowadays, the nuclear information community has fragmented access through several access points to knowledge available worldwide. Within the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy, there are different valuable information resources still requiring different search approaches and gateways. The type and format of information are often different, as well as the level of accessibility and usability. We see the opportunity to make the ICS the main access point for many other repositories, taking advantage of the know-how developed during the last two years, in order to simplify and channel the users’ search experience.

Domenico Pistillo
Group Leader, SDSG