We’re glad that you’re here. The Neuroscience Information Framework project is a community portal for neuroscience researchers (although everyone is welcome) that provides the means and access to find data, tools, materials and information to drive neuroscience discovery. NIF is supported by the NIH Blueprint consortium and is built for neuroscientists by neuroscientists, working through the neuroinformatics committee of the Society for Neuroscience and the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility. NIF makes use of advances in search, knowledge engineering, text mining and human legwork to access the so-called “hidden web,”,i.e., dynamic databases and other content that is not indexed by search engines. For years, people have been asking “Why can’t we have a Google for neuroscience?” Well, this is it! We maintain a custom web index built around neuroscience, a catalog of curated resources, access to many neuroscience databases, a large literature corpus for neuroscience, all accessible simultaneously through a simple search interface. You may search these resources using the NIF vocabularies, an extensive vocabulary that covers many domains of neuroscience. Why is this important? We use these vocabularies to search for synonyms and related terms so that you can focus or expand your searches, e.g., not “Neuron” but 125 different types of neurons, classified by neurotransmitters and brain regions. As the NIF evolves and the vocabularies grow, we’ll use them more and more for searching and organizing results.
With the release of NIF 1.5, we have significantly upgraded NIF, both its contents and its look and feel, and we need your feedback! Is something missing from NIF? Let us know by recommending a resource. Are you building a database and would like to make use of the framework? Then visit our recommended best practices and use our vocabularies. Do you need help getting started with NIF? Then attend one of our on-line tutorials. Is it easy to use and useful to you? If not, help us make the NIF better by becoming a beta tester.
We want the NIF to be a community place for neuroscientists and those who want access to neuroscience data and tools. We’ll be making use of Wikis and other Web 2.0 tools so that you can not only come to the NIF to take information away but also contribute your expertise and leave some of your experience behind. We have already set up the NeuroLex Wiki to help us build the NIF vocabularies. The NIF Blog is a place where we will discuss neuroinformatics and information retrieval topics based on current trends and our experience building the NIF. If you have an opinion or experience you’d like to share, we’ll be happy to work with guest bloggers.