PhysNet - Distributed Online Information Services for Physics

Michael Hohlfeld, Svend-Age Biehs
Institute for Science Networking Oldenburg GmbH

Presentation given at
Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences, Praha, Czech Republic

October 2nd 2002


In the digital age any author can put information on the World Wide Web to make it globally accessible. Scientists publish the results of their work on the web using the server of a publisher, a central preprint server or their own institutions or personal homepages. The web changes the handling of information and the use of information management systems concerning creation, distribution, retrieval and archiving of scientific results. The major problem is not publishing, but retrieval of specific information from amongst the huge amount of information on the web.

Good known and widely used search engines like Google etc. are mostly global and not very specialized on a specific field. As a result, many "hits" are not relevant and the users are drowned in a flood of irrelevant answers. The field specific information a researcher looks for represents only a tiny fraction of the information available on the web.

A solution to this problem are specialized search engines and information systems which only search in specific fields and serves only professional information.

One examples for such a system is PhysNet, the physics department and document network ( PhysNet is a so called distributed information service and one of the largest and completest portals to the learned field of physics. We report on the present status of PhysNet, our experience in operating it, and the development of its usage.

In this connection we will also report on the project SINN - Searchengine Network in the International Natural Science Network ( The aim of this project is to enhance PhysNet to a fast and stable service by setting up a network of independent but cooperating Harvest-brokers and Harvest-gatherers as a searchengine system and building an active network of PhysNet-mirrors.