22 October 2010

Microsoft Academic Search

I see that MSoft have quietly re-introduced their Academic Search - at least I think it is a re-introduction. The original was launched in 2006 and then was closed down in 2008.  I used it originally in Information Research's "Find other papers..." box, but then it disappeared and I changed first to "Live" and then to  "Bing" - which must be just about the silliest name for a search engine that anyone could dream up.

I have no idea when Academic Search was re-introduced and I'm not sure what Microsoft intends with the new offering, other than to directly compete against Google Scholar.

One visualisation feature that does persist is an author time-line - however, this is deeply flawed, since it appears to be unable to separate people with the same name.  So, when I click on my own name as the author of a paper, the author time-line that pops up is for a "Tom Wilson" at the University of Stirling. Not really very helpful :-)  The other result of this is that "Tom Wilson" is wrongly linked to co-authors of "T.D Wilson" (i.e., me) and is credited with more publications and citations than is warranted. At least eight co-authors don't belong to "Tom Wilson" at all.  The further difficulty is that there is also another "T.D. Wilson" and one of my co-authors is credited to him. Finally, the homepage indicated for the Stirling "Tom Wilson" is for another "Tom Wilson" entirely.

It ought to be possible for Microsoft to clean up its act, since standard information extraction procedures ought to be capable of associating papers, authors, journals and co-authors in an intelligent fashion, but, until the situation is remedied don't expect the information you find about authors to be entirely accurate.

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