While the masses of web searchers remain glued to using the search box on general search engines, savvy users and researchers who want more bang for their search buck know that vertical search portals can help them hone in on relevant sources more quickly and can tap deep web sources that general search engines don't reach. Portals in medicine, business, government, and science have proven particularly attractive and useful. The aptly named Deep Web Technologies (www.deepwebtech.com) is a company that has pioneered a number of these efforts. In November 2008, Deep Web Technologies introduced Biznar for business research and Mednar for medical research. Deep Web Tech promised it would be adding other vertical search sites (see the NewsBreak, http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Deep-Web-Tech-Dives-Into-Vertical-Search-Portals-51531.asp). Now, the company has relaunched ScienceResearch.com (www.scienceresearch.com). Originally released in 2005 as a search engine focused on providing access to publicly searchable journal literature, ScienceResearch.com now boasts a greatly expanded set of searchable collections and Deep Web Technologies' next-generation federated search engine.
The ScienceResearch.com portal aims "to unify the World Wide Web's dispersed science to become the world's most comprehensive portal for science." Additionally, the portal seeks to make "long tail science," the very specialized science that may appear to be of limited interest, available to a larger audience through which applications may be found. Hopefully, the portal is designed to serve as a catalyst for scientific discoveries and innovative solutions. "Our goal is to make more science research available to more individuals than any other portal," says Abe Lederman, founder, president, and CTO of Deep Web Technologies.
ScienceResearch.com provides a single point of access to more than 400 high-quality, publicly searchable science and technology collections with a new, robust user interface specifically designed for advanced scientific research. "Featured collections" are included, which search major science search portals including Science.gov, WorldWideScience.org, and the E-Print Network (www.osti.gov/eprints). ScienceResearch.com also searches ScienceConferences, a portal providing access to some of the best conference proceedings, and Mednar.com. Each of these portals returns their best 200 search results to ScienceResearch.com. These results are aggregated with the results returned by individual sources.
ScienceResearch.com is divided into 15 categories, including Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Health and Medicine, and Physics. Categories have also been created for Science News and Patents. Users can search any number of categories, searching all collections within the categories selected, or choose specific collections within a category to narrow their search. ScienceResearch.com's categories are managed by volunteer moderators who help the ScienceResarch.com team select the best, most authoritative collections to include in each category. The company says it is seeking moderators for several categories.
"We hope that ScienceResearch.com will help to accelerate scientific discovery around the world," commented Lederman. "This portal promotes the cross-fertilization of ideas and theories among researchers in different fields through the simultaneous search of hundreds of important collections that a researcher might not otherwise find."
Lederman says, "To the best of our knowledge, no other federated search application simultaneously searches 400 sources." But he stressed that this is still in an early stage of what the company would like to achieve. It is trying to get to 1,000 sources within 1 year and eventually to 10,000 sources. To make the federated search application more scalable, Lederman says it is deploying ScienceResearch.com at an Amazon Cloud Computing Data Center.
I asked Lederman about comparing ScienceResearch.com to Elsevier's Scirus, its well-regarded science search engine. Scirus claims to search more than 485 million science-specific webpages (for details of what is covered see www.scirus.com/srsapp/aboutus). Lederman says the approaches are different. Scirus identifies, crawls, and indexes its content while ScienceResearch runs all searches in real time, searching each collection as if the search had been entered on each site. Savvy searchers will probably choose to use both tools.
Earlier in June, Deep Web Technologies introduced Search Builder, an automatic deep web search engine creation tool. This tool will allow a user to create and save a custom search page consisting of just the sources the user wants to search. Search Builder makes it possible to deliver any number of individualized federated search portals within an organization. Search Builder allows administrators or authorized users to create as many federated search portals as needed, which represent privately branded search pages containing different default collections and search fields used for the search, as well as customized user experience. Search Builder will be integrated into ScienceResearch.com as well as Mednar and Biznar.
The company also announced the availability of OpenSearch browser plug-ins for one-click searching of the major scientific information portals, including Scitopia.org, Science.gov, WorldWideScience.org, Mednar.com, Scienceresearch.com, and Scirus.com. Users can easily add any of these portals to their browser's search engine box by going to www.deepwebtech.com/open-search.html and clicking on a portal to automatically add it to their search box.
Last fall, librarian Roddy MacLeod of Heriot-Watt University in the U.K. posted to the library's blog a list of 9 recommended science search engines (http://hwlibrary.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/science-search-engines). "These will usually give much more focused search results than Google," he wrote. Significantly, five of the nine search engines chosen are sites built by Deep Web Technologies. The post was not lost on Lederman, who said, "We're delighted-but not surprised-to see that more than half of the first-rate science search engines selected by this blog have been created by DWT. Our search engines stand out because they encompass a broad range of resources that ensures user access to the best scientific, technical, and business content."
Lederman will be featuring ScienceResearch.com in his contributed paper at the Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference in Washington, D.C., this week. His talk is scheduled for Monday, June 15, 2009, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., in the Convention Center, Room 141. His paper, titled "Science Research: Journey to Ten Thousand Sources," is available on the SLA website (www.sla.org/pdfs/sla2009/SciResJourneyTenThouSources.pdf).
For a comprehensive list of science sources on the web, including search engines, digital catalogs, and gateways, see the cover article in the June issue of Searcher by Barry N. Brown and Paul Piper, "All (Almost) on the Internet: Freely Available Science Information Resources on the Web." LiveLinks for the URLs mentioned in the article are available at www.infotoday.com/searcher/jun09/LiveLinks_Brown_Piper_0609.htm.
Other Federated Search Research Sites Powered by Deep Web Tech
Scitopia.org (www.scitopia.org) is a free federated vertical search portal to the digital libraries of leading worldwide science and technology societies.
Science.gov (www.science.gov) is a gateway to more than 50 million pages of authoritative selected science information provided by U.S. government agencies, including research and development results.
WorldWideScience.org (www.worldwidescience.org) is a global science gateway, accelerating scientific discovery and progress through a multilateral partnership to enable federated searching of national and international scientific databases.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Technical Information Center's (DTIC) online research portal's interface, known as MultiSearch (http://multisearch.dtic.mil), offers four defense search channels from a single drop-down menu.
Mednar.com (www.mednar.com) is a health portal for medical researchers.
Biznar.com (www.biznar.com) searches 60 collections for news, patents, business intelligence, and information in real time.