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Scitopia.org launched at SLA

.: Scitopia.org was launched at SLA on Sunday, 03 June 2007. Scitopia.org is a "free federated vertical search tool", covering the digital libraries of 15 major scientific and technical societies. Additionally, Scitopia searches patents from the USPTO, Japan Patent Office, and esp@cenet (European), and the US DOE Information Bridge. At the launch, presenters from IEEE and ASME noted that the philosophy underlining this new search engine includes: "get past search to research", and "reduce distraction" by eliminating "noise", i.e., irrelevant search results. To date, approximately 3,000,000 documents have been indexed, with one or more of the societies' coverage dating back 150 years. The search engine is free to the public, but is designed for researchers. No new subscriptions are required to get access to the full-text of these documents, provided your institution already subscribes to one or more of the societies' digital libraries and/or packages.

For the moment, Scitopia.org is focused on technology: physics, mathematics, computing science, and engineering. Scitopia.org hopes to expand and include more technical societies to broaden and increase its coverage.

The product still needs work. The author search does not work beyond the search of an author's last name only. As well, there is no facility to export results to one or more bibliographic management programs such as EndNote or RefWorks. There is also no facility for a "My Scitopia"-type feature, which would allow for the storage of search results, or regular running of stored searches as RSS feeds. However, the product offers an index to the digitized publications of many of the world's major scitech associations and institutions, and will only get bigger and better. The representatives from the societies present at the launch indicated clearly that they are open to and welcome any and all feedback to improve the product and make it better for its users. To be fair, the problem with the author search is a tough one, as it is difficult to gather together name authority structures from 15 societies and index them accordingly, but they do plan to work towards a solution.

Scitopia looks good, and I look forward to using it soon. The societies involved to date are:

Acoustical Society of America
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
American Institute of Physics
American Physical Society
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Vacuum Society
The Electrochemical Society
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
Institute of Physics Publishing
Optical Society of America
Society of Automotive Engineers
Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics
SPIE

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