Microsoft Academic Search in beta is a free academic search engine developed by Microsoft Research. It covers more than 38 million publications and over 19 million authors across a variety of domains with updates added each week. This large collection of data has also allowed users to create several innovative ways to visualize and explore academic papers, authors, conferences and journals.
For a full discussion of features, see Help pages
Like Google scholar “in beta”
In 2012, Microsoft’s Academic search engine provides access to a range of content explicitly revealed on the home page. When searching topics such as “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”, the search engine finds about 10,500 results. A comparable search in Google scholar returns 13,000 results. Microsoft’s Academic search engine does not index any legal materials or patents, something Google scholar now does. The various subject areas that are covered in Academic search now appear on the home page and show, at a glance, the scope and coverage of the database.
Some other features in Academic search are worth mentioning. Citations include links to fulltext sources, if and when they are available. An initial list will not provide snippet views; but by clicking on titles, a graphical view of citations is shown as well as a snippet view. A visual explorer indicates citation trends covering the publications and number of citations. Citations listed below the graph are clickable for links to abstracts and fulltext content. An export button allows the searcher to download citations in standard bibliographic formats.
Obviously, Academic search is not as well known as Google scholar. But it might be worth examining and using in searching for the grey literature. One of the advantages of Academic search is that the snippet view is useful in determining whether a hit is worth exploring. Additionally, Microsoft relies on title words in order to determine relevancy of items. Its interactive social qualities are superior to Google scholar’s; the help screen in Academic search also provides further information about the search engine’s capabilities.
Microsoft’s Academic Search has been around 2011 or earlier. This is interesting given that Microsoft had announced only the year before that it was retiring the project. Since 2004, Google scholar has been trying to improve its presentation and listing of results – and has come a long way. The inclusion of legal materials and patents has been a boon for scholars, lawyers and law librarians. However, its lack of transparency in its indexing practices and coverage make it difficult to use with confidence for most scholarly areas. As a browsing tool, it is acceptable but not so much for performing structured literature reviews.
Microsoft’s Academic search profile pages provide a way for you as a UBC scholar to track your scholarship – and connect with others within your discipline. Google scholar performs a similar function. You can check out who is citing you and your publications, see how your citations are graphed over time and compute other citation metrics. Make your profile public so your students can see what you are up to — contact me for more information.