Microsoft has released a beta version of its Windows Live Academic Search service — an unusual move for the company, which tends to hold back from releasing its products until fully developed.
The search tool, the result of a cooperative effort between Windows Live Search, industry association CrossRef and more than 10 publishers, provides access to academic journals in three disciplines: computer science, electrical engineering and physics.
There is a lot to like about Academic Search, Matt Booth, vice president of interactive local media at the Kelsey Group, told TechNewsWorld. The engine lets users move their mouse over the results to view the abstract — in other words, no clicking required. They can also sort results by author, journal, conference and date.
Microsoft is not the first to tackle academic search. Google introduced Scholar, a similar search engine, some two years ago. Penn State developed Citeseer, another well-respected search engine for academic materials.
“This is still very much an early market,” Booth observed. “Scholar is not that old and Microsoft is going to update its beta within the next three or four months, probably with new content as well. Also, Google Scholar is likely to be updated around that time.”
Vertical by Vertical
It may be difficult, at the moment, to forecast which engine will become the favorite of the academic search vertical, but Google clearly dominates overall search.
Microsoft’s search strategy of approaching the market vertical by vertical may put it within striking distance of Google. “I don’t think we will be in a situation where one company owns the entire search market,” Booth said. “There is still much more content to be indexed — I think Google’s stance is that they have only indexed 1 percent of possible content.”
Also, Microsoft’s search initiative is still quite young. “It only started building its core search engine a couple of years ago,” Booth noted. “It has come a long way in a short amount of time.”
Other features in Academic Search include the following:
- Citation support in two major bibliographic formats;
- Author “live links” that will automatically connect to the search results of articles associated with a particular author by clicking on the hyperlink of the author’s name;
- Direct links to published version; and
- Support for macros and RSS.
Other organizations working with Microsoft on the Windows Live Academic Search tool include the IEEE, the ACM, Taylor & Francis Group, the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics, Ex Libris Group, TDNet, Blackwell Publishing, Elsevier, Nature Publishing Group, the British Library, Online Computer Library Center and John Wiley & Sons.