Improving searches in INSPIRE

Heath O’Connell

Heath O’Connell, head of the Information Resources Department, wrote this column.

INSPIRE, the key information system for high-energy physics worldwide, provides comprehensive databases and associated services covering research, conferences, jobs, experiments, institutions and people in the HEP community. As reported in a previous column, Fermilab is a strong contributor to INSPIRE.

In May, Fermilab hosted the third annual INSPIRE Advisory Board meeting. The board welcomed China’s Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEP), which joined the INSPIRE collaboration of CERN, DESY, Fermilab and SLAC. In addition, scientist Rob Kutschke participated as Fermilab’s new INSPIRE Advisory Board representative. Among other things, board members discussed efforts to manage experimental data sets in INSPIRE by preserving them in the database, assigning them unique digital object identifiers and linking them with the papers they appear in.

For its part, Fermilab has, among other things, been working on two endeavors of particular note — distinguishing between author names and enabling job searches in the field.

For scientists, tracking their research publications is invaluable to their careers. However, this gets difficult when people have similar names: How do you determine who is who? We have devoted considerable effort to author disambiguation by assigning ID numbers to more than 40,000 physicists and maintaining bibliographic information for each of them. These ID numbers are used by the Tevatron, LHC and RHIC collaborations as well as Pierre Auger, among others, to identify their authors. Now we’re assisting IHEP as they work on Chinese authors.

We also manage the HEPJobs database, which contains job listings submitted by users as well as jobs we find from scanning major high-energy physics institutions’ sites. Using our HEPJobs database, we provided data to the Snowmass Young Physicists organization for a job market study last year. Typically, there are between 500 and 1,000 jobs posted, which we regularly confirm are still open. Roughly 1,000 people subscribe to our courtesy job announcement mailing list, and many more browse the site regularly.

As America’s particle physics laboratory, we’re glad to provide these services, which strengthen the community and the connections between those who make the science possible.