September 24, 2017

Microsoft Academic Search (Beta) Appears Ready to Expand Database Coverage

Look out Google Scholar. Get ready for the academic/scholarly search war to begin very very soon. We think many info industry database providers will also have an interest in a new service from Microsoft.

Here’s why.

Since October 2009 we’ve been covering, speaking about and paying very close attention to Microsoft Academic Search. The product is being developed by Microsoft Research primarily by their team in Asia. It’s important to note that MS Academic is nothing like the mediocre (and that’s being kind) MS Live Academic Search available a few years ago.

In our view, Microsoft Academic Search turns the open web academic/scholarly material search game up to 11.

Since late 2009 MS Academic has been adding content and new features on a regular basis. There are to many features to mention in this post but one very cool feature is the ability to see in context how a citation is referred by the paper citing it. Here’s an example, scroll down the the “citation context” section. Btw, if the article is available on the open web a direct link to it is provided.

While the demos we’ve conducted have left the audience impressed what’s being developed the practical use of the database for many has been limited because it only contains articles, proceedings, etc. in the computer science/info tech arena. That’s still the case today.

So the question for many has been if/when would Microsoft expand the database to include material from domains of knowledge or disciplines?

We now have an answer. Yes expansion is on the way and a rollout appears to be imminent (in the next nine or ten days).

Clues.

In the past day the MS Academic Search site has seen:

  • The addition of an option to limit to specific domains of knowledge next to the search box
  • An major increase in the size of the database in terms of the number of publications and authors (listed on homepage).
  • A listing of the domains/disciplines to be added.

The list includes chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and physics. Also on the list are biology, pharmacology, and psychology. Arts & humanities, economics, and social sciences are also listed but not expanded into specific domains/disciplines.

As far as the roll out goes next to physics, mathematics, engineering, and chemistry you’ll notice the number of days until the launch. First up will be physics.

Our advice is to spend some time here and become familiar with the many features available to researchers. We will do our best to also jump and  explain some of our favorites in the next week or two. Those of you who do search training could also begin to outline some features that will be of interest to students.

In a nutshell, the expansion of MS Academic Search is big news. We’ve seen a lot of cool and useful resources over the past 15 years and MS Academic is one of them.

What do you think?

One caveat. Remember that as of today MS Academic is still growing rapidly and we would imagine that it will continue expanding rapidly for many more months. If it doesn’t contain something you think that it should include give it some time

Finally, as we learn more, you’ll learn more.

Note: Earlier this week the database listed a total of about 8 million publications from close to 6 million authors.  Today the database lists 15.7 million publications from nearly 11 million authors. Our guess is that some of the new material includes what will soon be released.

Note 2: In October, 2009 the MS Academic Search homepage listed 3.3. publications.

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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