IAEA logo Nuclear Information Newsletter
www.iaea.org/inis                ISSN 2410-4940 (online)
No. 17, October 2015
45th INIS Anniversary Newsletter

Germany: INIS — 45 years of Reliable Nuclear Energy Information 

Silke Rehme is currently the Vice President of Content & Services at FIZ, Karlsruhe. She has been the INIS Liaison Officer since 2006

Sabrina Eck is a librarian and is Head of Editorial Metadata and Patents. She has been the Alternate INIS Liaison Officer since 2012.

Michael Mutschelknauss is a Subject Analyst and Thesaurus Specialist. He has been involved in INIS production since 1985.


First contributions

The Federal Republic of Germany has been an official INIS member since 1970. The first 78 citations from German publications can be found in Issue 2 of Volume 1 of the INIS Atomindex. 

At that time, the Zentralstelle für Atomenergie-Dokumentation (ZAED) was the INIS center in Western Germany. To ensure that the documentation on nuclear energy was directly serving the interests of researchers working in this field, the ZAED had been recently moved from Frankfurt to the neighborhood of Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Germany’s most important nuclear research institution. After 1977, the ZAED, together with other documentation centers, was merged into what is today FIZ Karlsruhe. At the same time, publications from Eastern Germany were analyzed by the Staatliches Amt für Atomsicherheit und Strahlenschutz in Berlin from 1974 to 1989. After the German reunification, FIZ Karlsruhe became responsible for this. The share of German contributions made to the INIS database amounts to 7% of the total number of contributions. Germany has regularly ranked among the top 5 contributing Member States in the annual statistics.   

FIG. 1. One of the first database citations from Germany.

International cooperation

Regarding cooperation in INIS, Germany — represented by FIZ Karlsruhe and its predecessors — has always been actively involved, not only in contributing publications, but also in strategic planning, organization, and technical and subject matters throughout the past five decades. Germany was part of the INIS Study Team during the planning stage of INIS. Germany also hosted two ILO meetings in Karlsruhe: one in 1979 and one on the occasion of the 30th anniversary in 2000. Staff from various INIS centers worldwide often visit FIZ Karlsruhe in order to gain insight into our INIS production or to participate in internships and training sessions on workflow management, application of rules, and FIBRE usage. FIZ Karlsruhe’s many years of participation in the Voluntary Input Program, and the editing of input provided as a service to sometimes as many as 7 other European input centers, has contributed to the comprehensiveness of the INIS database.

The INIS Working Groups, dealing with topics related to the database and it’s scientific, technical, and strategic enhancements, allow members the most direct influence on INIS developments. From the very start, Germany has been an active member of the Working Group establishing the Guidelines for Standardized Entry of Corporate Bodies, published under this title as Issue 21 of the INIS Reference Series. Among others, FIZ Karlsruhe was also a committed member of the Working Group responsible for merging the thesaurus and the classification of the two information systems, INIS and ETDE, and contributed to the realization of the Multilingual Thesaurus.

Development of the documentation of publications

The trends and developments that were decisive factors for the documentation of literature throughout the years were also essential for INIS production and the presentation of the INIS Collection. This directly affected the cataloging guidelines and thus the workflow of the INIS database production at FIZ Karlsruhe. One example is the development from a printed abstracting service to an on-line database. The printed service provided users with various indices for better access. To make them as uniform and unambiguous as possible, identifiers were introduced (e.g. affiliations and corporate publishers). Based on the INIS Reference Series, identifiers replaced the names of corporations found in literature being processed. Many database producers and information providers working with text mining techniques would be glad to have this kind of standardization today, but it, alas, was skipped during the technical advancement of search possibilities. As a side-effect, this method also saved space and storage capacity. For the same reason, the names of authors had to be abbreviated in the early years of database production. With increasing storage capacity and the emergence of on-line searchable databases, these aspects lost their importance.

Database production at FIZ Karlsruhe

In parallel to the changes at INIS, database production at FIZ Karlsruhe has also undergone a vivid transformation during the past 45 years. In the early days, the citations of articles were recorded by hand on paper, a so-called ‘input sheet’, then transferred onto punched tape via ‘Flexowriter’ and finally sent to Vienna by mail. Errors and typos had to be corrected by cutting out the wrong sections of the punched tape and gluing in a section with the correct information. Later, magnetic tape, cassettes, and disks were used. It was not until the late 1990s that data could be transferred electronically by FTP, making it no longer necessary to send the information by mail.

FIG. 2. INIS Worksheet at FIZ Karlsruhe.

At FIZ Karlsruhe, the era of input sheets and punched tape was followed by a mainframe-supported input system, where data was entered into fixed entry masks via terminals, and with separate systems for journals, books, series, and articles. The introduction of an integrated system in the mid-1990s marked a milestone in FIZ Karlsruhe’s database production. Besides INIS, many other bibliographic and factual databases were produced with hundreds of thousands of entries per year. All of them used the same system, and many were produced according to the INIS cataloging guidelines, which had become the standard procedure at FIZ Karlsruhe.

Development of content produced in Germany

If we take a more detailed look at the subjects of German input, we should mention that this does not necessarily reflect German research activities but the German publication landscape. It comes, therefore, as no surprise that the content delivered to INIS by FIZ Karlsruhe has not really changed dramatically over the last 45 years. During all these years, German input has always focused on basic research such as nuclear physics, medical aspects, and material science.

On the other hand, Germany is a country with a highly developed nuclear reactor technology, many nuclear reactors, and a long-standing debate between supporters and critics of nuclear power. Looking at the political discussion in Germany about the use of nuclear power and the nuclear phase-out, it might be interesting to discover whether these developments are also reflected in the publications written by German authors.

In Germany, the first discussions on the safety of nuclear power plants, and, in consequence, also the phase-out, began very early. In the mid 70’s, criticism had already intensified, culminating with the Chernobyl accident in 1986.

In 2000, Germany decided not to build any new nuclear power plants and the run-time of any existing nuclear power plants should not exceed more than 32 years. The goal was a nuclear phase-out and the last nuclear power plant should be shut down around 2021. These dates had been vividly discussed and eventually prolonged due to technical and economic reasons until the accident in Fukushima. In 2011, as a direct consequence of this terrible accident, the German government decided to take consequent steps towards the phase-out, signaling a change in their energy policy. In the follow-up, eight nuclear power plants were immediately shut down in 2011, and a final plan for the nuclear phase-out was established.

One might expect that these political discussions and decisions would also affect research activities in Germany. In the beginning, nuclear power plant technology had been an important and successful area of research. This has changed over time and today one will hardly find research activities in this area in Germany. How does the INIS database reflect this?

If we look at publications from German authors in detail, we can see some effects which can be matched to the ongoing political discussion in Germany. For example, Fig. 3 shows that the number of articles on nuclear reactors (INIS classification codes S21 and S22) had remained stable for many years until 1986. Political discussions had been intense since the end of the 1970s, but we can see that the number of publications has continuously decreased since 1986, after the Chernobyl accident. If we look at publications worldwide, we can see that this decrease appears later, namely at the end of the 1990s. The early decrease of German research on nuclear reactors seems to be a result of the political situation in Germany.

Another hot topic in Germany has always been the storage of nuclear waste. How and where to store it has been a controversial subject for many years. So it is not really surprising that searches in INIS show that research results had been published at quite a high level for many years.

Topics like the nuclear phase-out, political issues, and environmental issues are a bit more difficult to search in the database. To search these topics comprehensively, one would have to search for quite a lot of search terms in different combinations of Boolean operators. To get a first impression of how these topics have evolved during the last decades, we have searched for the most important terms such as ‘nuclear phase-out’, ’dismantling’ and ’decommissioning’.

FIG. 3. Development of the number of publications on nuclear reactors during the years 1975-2013 in Germany and worldwide.


We see that this topic became important quite early (Fig. 4). Of course there was an increase of articles after the Chernobyl accident, particularly worldwide. Concerning articles from German authors, the number has been, with very few exceptions, quite stable. What we can also see is that German authors delivered around 10% of all those articles, which is remarkably higher than the German portion of the entire INIS input (7 %). This probably gives a hint that this topic was and still is quite important in Germany.


FIG. 4. Development of publications on the nuclear phase-out, dismantling and decommissioning during the years, 1975-2013 for Germany and worldwide.


Looking back on 45 years of cooperation in the INIS community, FIZ Karlsruhe is proud to have been an important member over the years. Throughout the last decade, traditional database producers and information providers involved in the documentation of literature as a whole have had to deal with strong competitors, such as Google, also in view of technical developments, new information channels, and an ever changing information environment. Only products and services with an excellent quality as to comprehensiveness, indexing depth and business models, and that were firmly anchored in the community, were able to hold their ground. 

The INIS Collection has developed into a huge knowledge base of nuclear information. During the last couple of years, INIS has also become a user-friendly, modern Web database with really good functionality. It is offered for free worldwide so that the high-quality information does not get lost and will hopefully still be used during the next centuries. All Member States and member organizations can be proud to have built together such a huge and well maintained collection. If INIS succeeds in continuing the database under the aegis of the IAEA with strong partners, innovative ideas, a future-oriented strategy and a committed team in Vienna, Germany – and FIZ Karlsruhe acting on its behalf – will certainly keep walking a long way together with INIS. 


FIZ Karlsruhe would like to thank the INIS team at the IAEA and congratulate them on the tremendously good job done throughout the years!