Frequently Asked Questions accelerates scientific discovery and progress by providing one-stop searching of 70 scientific databases and an index of over 2,200 websites (together known as sources), from across 13 federal agencies. All information is freely accessible, and no usernames or passwords are required. These authoritative, selective sources are chosen by member agencies of the Alliance.

How does the search work? simultaneously searches the selected sources using federated search. That is, launches and distributes user queries to the federated, participating search engines, databases and other sources, then aggregates, ranks and displays top-level results from all sources. Each result contains a title including a link to the full information, an indication of relevance to the search query (indicated by stars where more stars indicate greater relevance), an information snippet and a link to the host agency.

Federated search technology enables to provide key advantages to users. For example, in comparison to crawler-based search engine results, federated search results are inherently as current as the individual sources, as they are searched and retrieved in real time with existing crawler-based search engines. Also, does not place any requirements or burdens on owners of the individual data sources, other than handling increased traffic.

What's the best way to find what I want?

Basic Search

Perform a Basic Search from the homepage by entering a search query in the search box and clicking Search .

Advanced Search

Narrow or refine your search query using Advanced Search from either:

  • The homepage and clicking Advanced Search inside the Basic Search box, or
  • Search Results pages by clicking Search at the top right.

Constructing Your Search Query

At the top of the Advanced Search page within the search box, you can construct a search query by typing in search term(s) or selecting from picklist options in one or more of the following:

  • Full-Record searches the bibliographic record and full text of the document.
  • Title searches for document title.
  • Author searches for the specified author(s) of a document.
    Tip: use the last name of a single author for best results.
  • Date Range limits results to documents published between two years that you select.

On the Advanced Search page under the search box, All Categories (all database and website sources) are searched by default. You can change the default to search one or more sources as follows:

  1. Reveal all sources under each category by clicking the plus button (it changes to a minus button) that appears to the left of All Categories.
  2. Remove the check from the All Categories box to clear all the source check boxes.
  3. Check the empty box next to one or more of the desired categories or individual sources.
  4. Click Search.

Tip: Select the Clear button to reset Advanced Search between searches.

Query Expressions

From either Basic Search or Advanced Search, you can conduct searches using multiple search terms, Boolean operators, exact phrases, parentheses, and wildcards (see more information about each, below).

Note: Searches are not case-sensitive. For example, a search for SCIENCE, Science, or science will return the same results.

Multiple Search Terms

By default, multiple terms are searched using the Boolean operator AND:

  • Example: A search for science technology will return results on both science and technology.

Boolean Operators

Use the operators AND, OR, and NOT to get results as follows:

  • Example: A search for science AND technology will return results on both science and technology.
  • Example: A search for science OR technology will return results on either science or technology.
  • Example: A search for science NOT technology will return results on science but not technology.

Exact Phrases

Phrases contained in double quotations (" ") will be searched as an exact phrase.

  • Example: A search for "nuclear energy" will return only those results where energy immediately follows the term nuclear.


Using parentheses provides control over the order in which Boolean expressions are evaluated.

  • Example: The search query nuclear ((energy consumption) OR waste) will search for nuclear and energy and consumption as well as for nuclear and waste.
  • Example: A search for ((black holes) or (dark matter)) AND gravitation will search for black and holes and gravitation as well as for dark and matter and gravitation.


Wildcards ("*" and "?") allow a search term to act as a "root" for words with different forms.

  • Example: A search for part* will return results that include the terms part, particle, participate, etc.
  • Example: A search for part? will return results with only one additional character: parts, party, etc.

Search Results

Using Basic Search typically yields broader, more numerous results; Advanced Search can limit them. In either case, after clicking the Search button a list of results will appear.


  • Timing of returning Search Results may be impacted, for example, by the size of a collection and internet connection. Incoming results are refreshed as the search completes.
  • Relevance of each Search Result to your query is denoted by one-to-five stars that appear beneath the title of each result. More stars indicate greater relevance.
  • Number of Search Results generally returns up to 100 of the most relevant or top-level results from each source returned. Top-level results are those that meet the terms of the search query most closely. Tip: To see the number of all results for each source, click the 'X' of 'X' sources complete at the top-right of the Search Results page. In the Search Status box that opens, you will see the top-level results as well as any additional results that can be found at the source. If you wish to view these additional results, you will need to go directly to the source to search for those results. To navigate to any source, click the source name in the Search Status box.

Refine Search Results

You may opt to narrow or limit your Search Results by using the following features on your Search Results page.

Category Tabs at the top of the Search Results page you can select the Category Tabs to see Search Results as described:

  • Text includes journal articles, technical reports, conference papers, and other textual information.
  • Multimedia includes videos, audio files, images, and other multimedia.
  • Data includes scientific and technical data sets and collections.
  • Public Access includes peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded scientific research.

All Collections in the dropdown menu at the top-center of the Search Results page, you can select All Collections to limit Search Results to one agency source.

Left navigation under the Topics tab the Date Range Picker refines Search Results by date when you slide the end points to the desired date range. Clusters enable you to:

Sort By:
  • # [number] of Results
  • Alphabet letters, A-Z

Refine By:
  • Topics
  • Authors

The Visual tab displays a circular graph of topics and the number of Search Results. Clicking on a topic in the graph refines Search Results by topic.

Manage Search Results

Select Search Results first, to manage your Select Search Results, check the box next to one or more Search Results.


  • The number next to the My Library button will increase as more Search Results are selected. (See more about My Library)
  • Selected Search Results are available until they are unchecked or until the browser is closed. (See Clear Selected Search Results)

Clear Selected Search Results click the trashcan button to clear your selection of Search Results.

Print Search Results after selecting one or more Search Results, click the printer button to print your selection.

Email Search Results click the envelope button to display the Email Results box:

In the Email Results box:

  • Enter an email address (one only), your name, and optional message in the spaces provided.
  • Click Send Results at the bottom of the window to email the Search Results.

An email from will be delivered to the specified email address.

Set User Preferences click the wrench button to display the User Preferences box:

Set your User Preferences as follows:

  • Results per page click the arrow to set the number of Search Results, from 10 to 100, that will appear on each page.
  • Sort results by click the arrow to choose to sort by Rank or Date
  • Open results links in select New Tab or Same Tab
  • Include unranked results select Include or Do not include
  • More results popup select Show popup when there are additional results or Do not show additional results popup.

Click Save to apply new settings and return to your Search Results.

My Library (Download Search Result Citations) click the My Library button. Under Reference Management you can choose to download your Search Results as a text file in RIS format or to a variety of citation management software tools.


  • Selected Search Results are available until they are unchecked or until the browser is closed.
  • Printing and emailing Search Results can be performed also within the My Library feature.
What's New?

How do I translate into other languages including Spanish? Users interested in translating from English to Spanish or other languages, may click and view the translation instructions at Translating Note: These instructions are for the Google Chrome browser.

Public Access now provides the ability to limit searches to a newly added category called Public Access. This category enables searching of peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded scientific research from the federal repositories supporting public access. This capability is provided in support of a broad federal-wide initiative, referred to as Public Access, which aims to increase access to federally funded, peer-reviewed scholarly literature (journal articles and accepted manuscripts that have been published in peer-reviewed journals).

You can choose to narrow your search to the Public Access category of content as follows:

  • From any Search Results page, near the top center, click on the Public Access tab.
  • From Advanced Search (on the homepage, click the Advanced Search link in the Basic Search box), click the check in the All Categories box to clear all the categories then check only the box for the Public Access category. You may also click the plus button to expand the list of all the Public Access resources so that you can select one or more of them.

Using the Public Access feature gives you access to scholarly research results across the federal agencies participating in

The homepage also links to more information about Public Access. If you are a federally funded author or coauthor of peer-reviewed scientific publications and need to submit your accepted manuscripts to the funding agency(ies) for purposes of public access, you can learn How To Submit Research Papers to Funding Agencies from a single place. U.S. Federal Science Agencies' Public Access Plans are also available.

What is included in and what is not included? (Selection criteria) includes databases or websites that are rich in science content. The content may consist of scientific or technical data, technical reports, publications, databases, or other forms of science information. The content might also include information about, for example, scientific user facilities, experts in scientific disciplines, or contacts to consult for assistance. does not include websites that are merely organization home pages or sites that require a password or other access privilege. Sites must also be current and well-maintained.

What is the difference between and collections/gateways to government science information made available elsewhere?

The major difference is agency source and authority of the information. Rather than automatically collecting content using spiders as private sector gateways might do, the database and websites are selected by agency information managers and librarians as representing authoritative government science information. The information content results from government-funded research and development or similar activities in which there is a U.S. Government investment. The agencies are responsible for the source of their respective content included in

How is governed?

The Alliance provides the governance structure for and is a partnership whereby science mission departments, agencies and programs have agreed to work together voluntarily to produce Vision and strategic direction are provided by the Alliance principals. Administration is provided by the chair or co-chairs selected from among the Alliance members. Task groups have been created as needed to handle the development of the taxonomy, to support content development and website management and to conduct promotional and outreach activities. Major support is provided by CENDI, a working group of high level scientific and technical information managers in science mission agencies.

On behalf of the Alliance, was developed and is maintained by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), an element of the Office of Science within the U.S. Department of Energy. Please contact if you represent a federal agency and host a federal science database or portal and would like your source searched by

How often will be updated? will be kept current, with each component having a regular schedule for update. Sources will be added throughout the year on a periodic basis. The deep Web database (federated) search updates immediately so that each search is current. The websites index is re-indexed each time sources are added.

How can I find out more?

For additional assistance, Contact Us or call (301) 903-9617. Note that messages are typically returned within three business days.