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Nuclear Information Democratization
November/December 2013 Issue


Future democratization of nuclear information brings another challenge—of going from open access to a fully implemented open data concept. INIS opened its collection to the world, making it freely available over the internet. There are no restrictions imposed on the users, and a complete collection, including the full text of many documents, is available for easy download.

The open data concept ( calls for further democratization of information, particularly in the following three areas:

  • Availability and access: The data must be available as a whole and at a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by free download over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
  • Reuse and redistribution: The data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
  • Universal participation: Everyone must be able to use, reuse, and redistribute—there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavor or against persons or groups. For example, “noncommercial” restrictions that would prevent “commercial” use, ?or restrictions of use for certain purposes, should not be allowed.


As a consequence of applying the open data concept, a number of actions must be planned and implemented. The first and most critical one is opening the underlying database of the INIS Collection to outside programs and applications so that they have access to the raw data. This access could be achieved by making the INIS Collection compliant to the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), an application-independent interoperability framework for metadata harvesting and building of repositories.

The next step would be giving direct access to the individual records in the collection or to the data subsets. All this can be combined with the creation and use of independent outside-based APIs.


Further democratization developments and challenges foreseen by the INIS Secretariat include increasing the number of INIS members; reaching complete world coverage; increasing members’ contribution to the database, particularly the number of full-text documents; and improving the reliability, trustworthiness, accuracy, and timeliness of available information resources.

Information can be regarded as knowledge, a process, or a thing. All three facets or views of nuclear information can benefit from democratization efforts. INIS represents a good example of successful democratization on all three levels. Valuable nuclear knowledge codified in 3.5 million information resources was collected in a collaborative and fully democratic manner among 152 INIS members, and it was made freely and openly available to the world through the internet—the cheapest and most effective tool for modern information dissemination, retrieval, and use. This collected corpus of nuclear information is preserved as the world’s nuclear scientific and technical heritage for current and future researchers interested in the topic.

Democratization of nuclear information is not a static goal. It is a process whereby information technology and modern information management practices are combined to bring maximum benefits to end users by making the information easily accessible and freely and openly usable.


Accenture (2010). Information 2015: Reforming the Paradigm

Bates, Marcia J. (2005). Information and Knowledge: An Evolutionary Framework for Information Science. Information Research, 10(4)

Buckland, M.K. (1991). “Information as Thing.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 351–360.

Comprendia (2012). What Is a Scientific Social Network? 6 Thriving and Inspiring Examples

Houghton, John and Sheehan, Peter (2000). A Primer on the Knowledge Economy

IAEA (1956). The Statute of the IAEA

INIS (2000). Definition of Membership Arrangements for INIS. GOV/INF/2000/21. 2000-09-05.

INIS (2010). The International Nuclear Information System (INIS): The First Forty Years. Prepared by C. Todeschini. October 2010.

Madden, A.D. (2004). “Evolution and Information.” Journal of Documentation, 60(1): 9–23.

Wikipedia: Information.

Zheludev, Ivan S. and Groenewegen, Hans W. (1978). IAEA Bulletin, 20(4): 7–17.

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Dobrica Savic is the former head of the Nuclear Information Section (NIS) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


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