Microsoft Academic Search is a free academic search engine available at academic.research.microsoft.com/ that covers 50 million publications and over 20 million authors in a variety of domains. Much like Google scholar, MAS provides an easy way to search for articles, conference proceedings, reports and a variety of other content on the web (but not books or patents). Updated weekly, the papers and data generated (250+ million citations) can be used to visualize connections between documents, authors, conferences, grey literature and journals. Some subjects covered are agricultural sciences, arts & humanities, biology, chemistry, computer science, economics, business, engineering, environmental sciences, geosciences, materials science, mathematics, medicine and physics.
Microsoft Academic Search puts an emphasis on data visualization through its VisualExplorer tool which reveals “key relationships between and among subjects, content, and authors in a manner that highlights the critical links that help define scientific research.” Many of the caveats librarians issue with respect to searching on the web apply to Academic Search. It provides a convenient way to browse the scholarly literature to scan top authors in your field and browse articles by subdomain. It does not cover all publications available to you from your local academic library so use it to start research. Then, proceed to a library’s resources to complete it properly.