With scholarly communications on the brain, I was thrilled to learn about Microsoft Academic Search (MAS). Building on the work of resources like Google Scholar that gathers and indexes journal articles and Scopus and Web of Science that gathers information about how and where articles are cited by other researchers, Microsoft Academic Search brings these two items together in a *free* search. MAS also enhances the information with direct organization and department scholarly output comparisons. Some features, like the Call for Papers (CFP) Calendar, are very much in beta but would be an overwhelmingly useful tool for academics to help manage the many, many CFPs and conference submission deadlines.
To better understand my resource comparisons, I took a sample author and compared the citation results in MAS and Scopus; images of my search results appear in the slideshow below. The author information in MAS and Scopus both listed 4 articles publications, indicating that perhaps this information was correct. Yet, when I looked at the 4 articles listed in each, I found that MAS had a duplicate entry for one article and, therefore, completely missed a publication. Using the Help on MAS, I could get a look at all of the publishers they are working with and could identify that the missing article was from Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Witkins. For the health sciences, nursing, and medicine, they are a pretty major publisher so the absence of their information in MAS would be a significant hindrance. At the same time, the openness with which Microsoft lists their sources made this tracking down easy.
At the article level, in Scopus, the article “Breast cancer disparities and decision-making among U.S. women” was cited 24 times since its publication in 2007 (although Scopus lists the default “Cited by since 1996”) and has 84 references within the paper. In MAS, only 60 references are listed and 15 cited papers are listed. What happened to the rest? This may be one of the drawbacks to the *free* service. Looking a little closer at the details, it appears that Scopus is more complete while MAS currently stops at about 2010 for its citations. I’m guessing a similar limitation may be the issue with the references. While the resource appears to be in a very early beta phase, may need some data corrections, and, currently, it still doesn’t seem to account for other measures of impact such as social media sharing, it looks like I have another new toy to share with faculty in the Fall….
For updates on MAS, you can stalk, er, follow them more directly @MSFTAcademic