More than 400,000 press releases and 65,000 events in idw's archives are available free of charge to anybody.
idw also offers an expert finder which enables journalists to find suitable specialists in various fields. Established in 1995 as one of the first e-mail services for journalists, it is today a non-profit organisation with offices in Bayreuth, Bochum and Clausthal.
How can new online and e-mail media be utilized for scientific communication? This question was discussed in September 1994 by the press spokesmen of the University of Bayreuth (Jürgen Abel), Ruhr University Bochum (Dr. Josef König), TU Clausthal (Jochen Brinkmann) and the Head of the Clausthal Computer Centre (Dr. Gerald Lange) – then an idea was born that is working for more than 25 years.
A networking tool modelled on the American "ProfNet" expert database was then developed. First, the “Elster” mailing list was created (Elster = Electronic technology for European research), as early as 1994. It was made available to journalists for addressing enquiries to specialists by e-mail and fax. The enquiries were then referred to the press relations offices of member research institutions. By January 1995, Elster was already being used by 32 press relations offices and 20 journalists.
The direct communication between scientific institutions, the media and increasingly also private users met with general approval. Then the idea emerged that this communication channel could also be used in the opposite direction. With the help of a second mailing list, the press spokesmen and spokeswomen were now also able to communicate something to the journalists by distributing their press releases.
This was followed by the first idw website in 1995. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded the further development of the project for three years, starting in November 1996. The internet platform, by then operating under the new name of “Informationsdienst Wissenschaft” (idw, scientific information service), has been financed since 2000 by the attached press offices. idw continued to extend and develop its programme, for example by adding a new website based on a database and the scientific calendar, in which its members were now also able to announce their events.
idw has been a registered association under German law with an annual general meeting since 2002. Since then, it has been supervised by a honorary Board of Directors. A team of permanent employees has been involved in the association’s operational business from the very start. Today, idw employs a staff of seven part-time and two full-time at its three offices in Bayreuth, Bochum and Clausthal, Germany.
Updating and developing the system has always been one of the main tasks. In 2003, the first list of experts was compiled, and idw has been present as an exhibitor at the annual science journalism conference “Wissenswerte Bremen” since 2004. In 2005, RSS feed and announcements under news embargo were introduced. Individual statistics for every press release, in order to facilitate monitoring for the members, were added in 2007.
The idw Award was introduced in 2008 in order to foster quality in science communications. Since 2010, idw has also been present on Twitter, and on Facebook since 2011. The idw website has been completely redesigned and relaunched in 2013.
An image database has been added as a new offering and users can carry out a targeted search for pictures separately from the press releases. An entirely new feature introduced in May 2020 is a set of tools which idw provides to its member press offices in order to produce science news videos.
You can combine search terms with and, or and/or not, e.g. Philo not logy.
You can use brackets to separate combinations from each other, e.g. (Philo not logy) or (Psycho and logy).
Coherent groups of words will be located as complete phrases if you put them into quotation marks, e.g. “Federal Republic of Germany”.
You can also use the advanced search without entering search terms. It will then follow the criteria you have selected (e.g. country or subject area).
If you have not selected any criteria in a given category, the entire category will be searched (e.g. all subject areas or all countries).