Microsoft's research assistant

Microsoft's research assistant

Elsa Wenzel

Microsoft is on a roll lately with its relentless Windows Live beta releases. The latest tool is designed to aid researchers who might otherwise turn to Google Scholar. Windows Live Academic Search retrieves finds from journals in computer science, electrical engineering, and physics. Microsoft says it will add more types of journals according to users' demands.

At first glance, we find that Microsoft's offering better organizes information than Google's. The interface is integrated into the Windows Live Search beta, with a smooth scroll bar to navigate through results. We like the options for sorting by date, journal, author, and even the conference at which a study was presented. Mouse over a title to see either a brief summary or the full abstract. You can also retrieve entire articles if you're surfing from a library that subscribes to the journal of origin. Want to see what your professor has published? Once you spot one of her articles, click her name to find the rest.

This service can update you on an area of expertise by adding alerts or RSS subscriptions to your Windows Live beta account. PhD candidates might appreciate the citation export option, which provides instant details for a source in either BibTex or EndNote formats.