Nuclear Power: International Nuclear Information System on the Internet

By Levine, Emil | Online, July-August 2009 | Go to article overview
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Nuclear Power: International Nuclear Information System on the Internet

Levine, Emil, Online


The International Nuclear Information System (INIS), the world's largest database for nuclear science, is now freely available on the internet (http://inis, following a successful pilot test involving 10 member states. Its producer, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced the free access on April 3, 2009 ( Although some might be tempted to call this the "proliferation" of nuclear information, that term is normally related to the spread of nuclear weapons or the technology to develop them. The INIS database, according to its editorial policy, covers the peaceful uses of nuclear science.

INIS is created from bibliographic records and full-text documents submitted by INIS centers in member states, documents created by the IAEA, and bibliographic information purchased from scientific publishers. The INIS secretariat staff is now producing more than half of the database from material received from Elsevier Science, the Institute of Physics Publishing, the American Institute of Physics, and others. The INIS database began in 1970 in response to the IAEA's mandate "to foster the exchange of scientific and technical information on peaceful uses of atomic energy." It is advertised as the "leading worldwide reference database for published scientific literature on the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology."

Currently, INIS membership includes 120 member states and 23 international organizations; its database contains more than 3 million bibliographic records/references and abstracts of journal articles, scientific and technical reports, conference papers, books, patents, theses, laws, regulations, standards, and web documents, in 63 languages. This includes a unique collection of more than 850,000 NCL ("non-conventional 'grey' literature") reports in full text.


Deputy Director-General Yury Sokolov, head of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy, explained the background to the announcement at the meeting of the INIS liaison officers in Vienna, Austria, Nov. 3--5, 2008, when he said, "A nuclear information infrastructure will be an important element of (new) national nuclear power programmes."

Sokolov projected the growth of nuclear power plants and a doubling of present nuclear capability worldwide through the year 2030; he noted that about 50 countries have informed the

IAEA of intentions or interest in creating new facilities during this period. This includes approximately 20 new countries. "The accessibility of the INIS database should not be exclusionary. Locking content up behind a subscription wall prevents INIS from being visible to its potential user community."


All member states agreed to unrestricted free use (except China and Brazil), which will provide access after the registration of users within their countries.


INIS bibliographic information is processed within the 120 member states using the Friendly Inputting of Bibliographic Records (FIBRE) system. Records must be from journals and NCL published within the member state, thereby avoiding duplication. These bibliographic records are submitted primarily in electronic format to the INIS secretariat in Vienna, where they are further processed as part of an extensive quality-control system.

The INIS Expert System analyzes input records and compares indexing terms and subject categories against those previously entered into the database. Anomalous records are flagged for additional checking by subject specialists. Records are then manually corrected.

Computer-Assisted Indexing (CAI) software from Convera has significantly increased productivity by suggesting indexing terms for documents created by the IAEA and those purchased from commercial organizations.

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