Elsevier Science (http://www.elsevier.com) has announced that it's developing a Web search engine for scientific information that will search both free and proprietary (access-controlled) content. The new engine, Scirus, was officially unveiled and previewed at the Online Information 2000 conference in London, but it can be tested by anyone at http://www.scirus.com. The company is encouraging feedback to aid in its ongoing development and offers users a chance to sign up for a pilot program to help evaluate the service.
Scheduled for official launch in March 2001, the search engine is being developed by Elsevier Science in partnership with Fast Search & Transfer ASA (FAST), a leading developer of search, real-time filter, and compression technology (http://www.fast.no). Under the agreement, FAST will provide hosting services for the Scirus search engine and online catalog for 5 years.
Scirus will leverage the scalable core technology behind FAST Web Search (http://www.alltheweb.com), as well as specialized linguistic algorithms specifically designed to target scientific content on the Web, including full-text journal articles, academic studies, and scientists' home pages. Elsevier Science will supply the project with its extensive collection of peer-reviewed journals and other content.
"Like our Internet search service, AllTheWeb.com, Scirus is being designed to enable users to sort through the vast amount of scientific information on the Internet, quickly providing relevant and comprehensive results," said Rob Fisher, CEO of FAST. "This partnership with Elsevier Science demonstrates the flexibility of our technology, by combining relevant Internet content with proprietary information into a single, specialized search service for scientists."
Initially, Scirus will cover Elsevier Science proprietary information databases, such as ScienceDirect, BioMedNet, and ChemWeb, as well as scientific information that's freely available on the Web. According to the announcement, Elsevier Science will approach other companies providing scientific information and invite them to make their proprietary databases searchable through Scirus.
John Regazzi, managing director of Elsevier Science Electronic Publishing, said, "As the largest publisher of scientific information, we recognize the need to offer our customers and their communities comprehensive services, which include new tools and technologies that provide access to the full spectrum of the world's published STM [scientific, technical, and medical] content."
Scirus offers both a simple search and advanced search option. With the advanced search, users can specify the subject area, the source (free or restricted access), type of content, and a date range, and can restrict the search to specified fields, such as author, URL, or domain. Search results are presented with a brief description and with codes that identify whether it's a Free or Restricted Access item. Clicking on an article that's available through ScienceDirect, for example, will bring up a log-in screen asking for a password. Users can refine the results of a search and are presented with suggested keywords. There are also buttons for "More like this" and "Email This Result." Science searchers should definitely put this new search engine through its paces and provide input on what they would like to see.
If you are wondering about the name, Scirus was an ancient seer who came from Dodona at the time of the war between Eleusis and Athens. According to the site, "We chose the name Scirus for our scientific search engine because science is a visionary discipline in which you are continuously working on new ideas and developments. The search engine will support you in a proactive way and will support your role as seer."
Scirus will also be available as a search capability on ScienceDirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com), the service from Elsevier Science that provides access to nearly 1,200 journals, with more than 1.2 million full-text articles published by Elsevier Science and other STM publishers.
In related news, Elsevier Science announced that it will expand the collection of journal backfiles offered on ScienceDirect. The archives, which currently date from 1995, will be extended in some cases as far back as the first volume published. Chemistry titles will be introduced first, then titles in mathematics and economics. The text will be viewable in Adobe PDF format, with all titles, abstracts, and references available in HTML. The company also announced the launch of its Open Linking Technologies, a new suite of linking capabilities that will enhance ScienceDirect's navigational environment, providing seamless linking both within ScienceDirect and out to other content beyond the scope of Elsevier Science's publications.