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Search Multimedia and Visualize Topics on Science.gov!

Federated search portals are a valuable tool that professional patent searchers can utilize as one source for locating non-patent literature (NPL) prior art, especially government-funded scientific data and literature.  Science.gov is an important example of a government-funded federated search portal, which provides access to over 55 databases and 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information through a single query. Back in 2010, image search made a debut on the Science.gov platform. A recent NewsBreak from Information Today alerted me to the latest changes on the Science.gov federated search portal, which now has multimedia results automatically included in the hit list, the option to visualize topics from the search results, and a Spanish-language version of the portal.

Continue reading to learn about the new features on the Science.gov portal, which may help you locate unique non-patent literature prior art!
The Science.gov website describes the latest changes to the portal:

  • The main page, along with other pages, has an updated look with a new Science.gov banner – The homepage of the Science.gov portal seems to have a slightly more streamlined and organized look, with a simpler banner image, a large slideshow of images at the top of the page, and more distinct columns containing a variety of links organized under three sections in the bottom half of the page (Science in the News, Featured Websites, and Special Collections).  Overall, the layout and the content of the homepage hasn’t changed drastically, but it is slightly more visually appealing and organized than the old design (see the two screenshots below to compare).

The old homepage for Science.gov (screenshot from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine).

The new homepage for Science.gov.

  • Multimedia is automatically searched in addition to text – The search results by default includes a “Multimedia” tab, which lists all records categorized as “multimedia” (such as images, videos, and photograph collections). The results under the Multimedia tab include a thumbnail image for each search result, when available.  When the Multimedia tab is open,  the “Topics” sidebar will automatically reload to include topics (and visualizations of topics) specific to the multimedia results.

Multimedia search results.

  • Topics may be visualized within search results – Users can select the “Visual” tab in the Topics sidebar to create a wheel of available topics and subtopics related to the search results.  Main topics are located closer to the center of the wheel, while subtopics are displayed on the outer ringer of the wheel (and can be expanded or collapsed using the pink arrows).  Select a topic or subtopic from the wheel to filter the search results based on that term.  This visualization tool is almost identical in use and functionality to the Visual Explorer Tool on PatBase.

Visualization of topics for a search result set.

  • A Spanish translation is available via Ciencia.Science.govFrom the homepage, select the “ESPAÑOL” link to open the Spanish-language version of the portal.  Results appear to be automatically translated to Spanish using Microsoft Translator.

The Spanish version of Science.gov.


The integration of multimedia into the the Science.gov search results makes a broad new variety of non-patent literature accessible through a single query on this federated platform.  Users can quickly navigate between the text and multimedia tabs and narrow each set of results using the “Topics” side menu.  The list of multimedia results has the added benefit of including thumbnail images for each search result, so users may not need to need to view full records on the original websites to determine relevancy.  The incorporation of a visual topics wheel into the Topics side menu offers a unique alternative to the textual list of topics, authors, and dates that is usually used as a filtration tool on Science.gov.  It is interesting that the tool closely resembles the Visual Explorer Tool on the PatBase platform, although there is no indication on Science.gov that these two tools are related.  The Spanish portal for Science.gov may not be particularly useful for English-speaking prior art searchers, but it is a great improvement to the accessibility of Science.gov for Spanish-speaking users.

Have you tried the new multimedia search option and visual topics filter on Science.gov?  Let us know what you think about these enhancements in the comments section!
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This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


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