If you are interested in science and want to know what the U.S. government is doing in the field, then Science.gov [http://www.science. gov] is the Web site to use. Launched in December 2002 and updated in November 2005, the revised Science.gov has some very useful features. Many of the features have been available on other search engines for some time and it is good to see our tax dollars at work.
Science.gov allows users to search for science information from across the federal government, including over 30 databases from 12 federal science agencies.
Here are some of the new features for Science.gov 3.0:
* Terms are automatically ANDed together.
* Phrase searching with quotes allowed.
* Boolean terms AND, OR, and NOT are supported as well as parentheses and wildcards.
* The ranking mechanism is improved and takes advantage of metadata to do the ranking.
* Advanced search now allows searching any field or all fields.
* Site navigation is improved.
* Results showup while the search is still on course.
* Permanent links appear within the search results.
Science.gov now works much more like commercial search engines. Metarank, the private company developing the new ranking, uses metadata to decide on the ranking of query results. It works something like Google's pagerank, but geared towards databases instead of Web pages. You can also begin looking at results while the system continues to search. Once the search is complete, you can retrieve these additional results.
Unfortunately, the system does not carry user preferences over into future sessions. Preferences are only active for the current session and must be entered again the next time you use Science.gov.
I decided to take a look and see how well these features worked, focusing first on Boolean operators.
I performed a search three different ways: I searched just typing the words into the text box (which...