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I came across the news today that the folks behind the free federated search engine WorldWideScience.org have launched a new (beta) search interface for the tool that will automatically translate keyword queries into multiple languages. Searchers can use the tool to query the search engine’s scientific literature collections more efficiently: the service performs a federated search across over 60 global, multi-lingual scientific literature databases, including non-English databases in China, Russia, France, and several Latin American countries. Keyword queries in English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian are supported.
After playing with the tool for a bit, this seems to be how it works. On the home page of the multi-lingual search tool, you must first select your preferred language, and input a keyword query into the search engine. To select specific sources only, or to construct a more complex query, you can use the Advanced Search page. Because the search engine performs federated searching, some results will come back more quickly than others, and after the complete search is performed the site will ask you if you want to re-rank the results set based on all found hits. I advise you to do this! Just because some databases took longer to provide search results does not make them any less relevant to the search.
After the search is complete, results will be presented to the user in their original languages of publication. However, a large purple button on the top right of the screen says “Translate your results” – select this button to see the result titles and extracts in the language you selected at the beginning of the search. The page will then show the machine translations directly above the original text for each hit.
After reviewing your hits, clicking on the title of any particular result will navigate you to the third-party website of the particular database your search result came from. If this particular result is not in your preferred language, the Microsoft Translator interface will automatically divide the window into two panes – the first showing the original document, and the second showing the machine translated text in the preferred language.
I think that this tool has a lot going for it. First, there are the convenience and coverage factors: the tool performs a “deep web” search of over 60 databases that are not necessarily indexed on Google. Next, I think it’s valuable because it will help prior art searchers extend their searches into non-English collections, seamlessly providing machine translations of the hit list and individual results. It’s not always easy for English-speaking searchers to stretch themselves and delve into foreign-language collections when so much of the world’s scientific literature is actually published in English – however, as we all know, the right reference (in any language) can be crucial to a prior art search. The good news is that introducing multilingual search capabilities seems to be a trend with search products recently, as we all remember from last month’s post on PATENTSCOPE®.
Have you tried out the new multi-lingual interface? Do you have any other recommendations for a good multi-lingual search tool? Let us know your thoughts!
This post was contributed by Intellogist team member Kristin Whitman.