GLOBAL: Worldwide science information gateway

A multilateral alliance has been set up to govern, the rapidly growing global online gateway to international scientific research information. Officials from organisations representing 38 countries met recently in Seoul, South Korea, to formalise their commitment by signing a WorldWideScience Alliance agreement to sustain and build upon joint efforts to provide a single, sophisticated point of access for diverse scientific resources and expertise from nations around the world.

The gateway will accelerate scientific discovery by providing one-stop searching of global science sources by connecting anyone with internet access to national and international scientific databases and portals.

When was first made publicly available in June last year, it was capable of searching 12 databases from 10 countries. Today, the website enables anyone with net access to launch a single-query search of 32 national scientific databases and portals from 44 countries, covering six continents and nearly half of the world's population. provides only quality, authoritative science information from the most current research provided by participating nations. The typical user query searches 200 million pages of science and technology information not typically accessible through popular search engines.

It began with an agreement signed in January 2007 by US Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science, Dr Raymond L Orbach, and Chief Executive of the British Library, Dame Lynne Brindley, to be partners on the development of a global science gateway.

" is already a wonderful tool for communication, bringing scientific databases from many countries to the fingertips of those advancing the frontiers of knowledge across the globe. It is well on its way to becoming a complete, comprehensive, international source for scientific inquiry," Orbach said.

"Unleashing global scientific discovery through will accelerate scientific progress. That is why we are so excited about this alliance and the global access to science it will provide." implements Federated Search to provide its encompassing coverage of global science and research results. It allows the information patron to search multiple data sources with a single query from the user interface.

When the information patron enters a query in the search box, the query is sent to every individual database or portal searched by The individual data sources send back to the site a list of results from the search query and the site then ranks the hits from all the sources in relevance order. The information patron can review this hit list and visit the host site of a particular hit for more detailed information.

The governance document laying out the structure for the WorldWideScience Alliance was ratified in February at the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information 2008 Winter Meeting in Paris, France.

The US Education Department's Office of Scientific and Technical Information, or OSTI, serves as the operating agent. OSTI conceived of the global science gateway and developed the application based on research results from the department's small business innovation research programme.

The multilateral alliance was established to serve as the permanent governance structure of and consists of 11 founding member organisations representing 38 countries. In addition to member countries, the international council will serve as a member and primary sponsor.

China and East European countries, including Russia, are yet to join the alliance.