A newly enhanced, scientific-only search engine gives students, scholars, and other academics another tool to conduct effective, comprehensive internet searches to find bona fide scientific information. The search engine, called Scirus–like a similar service called CrossRef–is free to users.
Scirus was developed in 2001 by parent company Elsevier, a world-wide publisher of scientific, technical, and medical information, to help the company reach a younger audience of undergraduate students and budding scientists.
“Scirus gave us an opportunity to broaden our outreach to a younger audience,” said Amanda Spiteri, one of the search engine’s directors.
The search engine also helps the company combat a growing phenomenon that Spiteri calls “Googlization,” whereby people think Google has the answer for everything and that everything they find on Google is correct.
Scirus, its makers claim, is the most comprehensive science, technical, and medical-specific search engine available on the internet. Scirus’s developers say their solution can penetrate even the “deep web” and return links to scholarly research and scientific papers stored on university and government web servers, among other locations.
Scirus scours the web for documents that have scientific bibliographies and are structured according to scientific norms. “If that bibliography isn’t there, it also looks at how the article is structured,” said Ammy Vogtlander, Scirus’ general manager.
In returning the search results, it extracts the author’s name and the article’s title, source, and abstract.
“Our ranking is optimized for scientific content,” Vogtlander added. The search engine compares each document to a scientific dictionary. The more scientific words a document has, the higher it is ranked in the search results. Scirus also places greater emphasis on the date the content was created by ranking newest content first. If the search term appears in the abstract of a document, it will receive a higher ranking.
Scirus currently searches more than 167 million pages and documents from the internet, as well as proprietary journal content. Web content is limited to content from universities, research institutes, governments, scientific organizations and conferences, scientists’ home pages, and company pages. The engine also searches the contents of MedLine, ScienceDirect, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, BioMed Central, NASA, and others.
CrossRef, a trade association of scholarly publishers, has been piloting a similar scientific-only search engine since last April after realizing how many people rely on Google for scholarly searches. (See “New search service creates ‘Google for scholars’.”)
Crossref Search uses Google’s popular search technology to index, rank, and search the full-text of high-quality, peer-reviewed articles of 29 scholarly publishers. Every word of every article in the journals of all 29 publishers is indexed and ranked using Google’s algorithms, CrossRef says.
“The CrossRef initiative is excellent. The only issue with it is that & it only indexes journal content. But Scirus indexes journal content and the web,” Vogtlander said.
CrossRef searches only the content from its participating publishers, whereas Scirus searches the internet at large. Once the pilot project is complete, however, CrossRef expects to expand its search capabilities to include the contents of all 300 of its member associations.
“[Scirus] has more advanced search capabilities, but the downside is that it’s affiliated with a single publisher,” said Amy Brand, CrossRef’s director of business development.
CrossRef provides links to the full-text articles in its members’ journals. “Some of that content is going to be open access, and some of that is going to be open to subscribers [only], and some is going to be available on a pay-per-view basis,” Brand said.