Faculty Summit 2008 Education and Scholarly Communication

Microsoft External Research fact sheet, July 2008

Microsoft External Research collaborates with the world’s foremost researchers in academia and across countless industries and governments to move research forward and fuel innovation. Working hand in hand with researchers is an essential part of the Microsoft External Research engagement model. The team serves as a critical link between academia and Microsoft product groups working on the development and utilization of new technologies from across the corporation.

Collecting and analyzing data, authoring, publishing, and preserving information are all essential components of the everyday work of researchers — with collaboration and search and discovery augmenting the entire process from end to end. At each phase, Microsoft technologies play an increasingly fundamental role. The Microsoft External Research vision is to support the scholarly communication life cycle with software and services so that data and information flow in a coordinated and seamless fashion. Rather than researchers having to switch between tools and methodologies at each step in the life cycle, technology can enhance and simplify the process. For example, data collected at the research stage moves directly into authored documents, which can then be published with the methodologies, licenses and associated metadata incorporated into the document so that future researchers building on the findings can access the original supporting information directly from an archived document.

By working with members of the research community, Microsoft External Research is developing a series of technologies designed for researchers and academics with the following goals in mind:

  • Optimize for data-driven research and science.
  • Enable broad community engagement through greater interoperability.
  • Help ensure that data storage is reliable and secure for the long term.
  • Build on existing community protocols, practices and guidelines.
  • Harness collective intelligence through social networking and semantic knowledge discovery.

To facilitate relationships and to ensure that individuals and organizations can work together and share their findings more easily, the end-to-end tools being made available across the scholarly communication life cycle will help researchers, government institutions and academic publishers find more relevant and targeted research, speed production cycles, and distribute and do their jobs better.

Across multiple projects, researchers from around the world have provided guidance on the application of technology; likewise, Microsoft product groups have submitted feedback on the use of the company’s technology to meet the needs of the scholarly community. The combined efforts — driven by Microsoft External Research — have resulted in multiple tools that span the entire scholarly communication life cycle. The first wave of these technologies is being introduced at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit.

Microsoft External Research is partnering to develop tools for academics and researchers that span the entire scholarly communication life cycle.

The first set of products and tools to be available includes the following:

  • Research output repository platform. Research output repositories are increasingly in use on university campuses and in research communities worldwide. The platform for building repositories leverages the strengths of Microsoft SQL Server 2008, the Microsoft Entity Framework and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. This technology, to be available via a free download, provides services based on open community protocols, such as the Open Archives Initiative-Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE) and SWORD, to ensure that this platform is open to other existing platforms and technologies for deep integration of services across repositories. The included toolkit and code samples will allow developers to present data in novel ways — demonstrating, for example, the relationships between a published paper and its authors, research data, associated lectures, presentation slides or PDFs. Currently in a limited alpha release, an open beta version will be available in the fall 2008 time frame.
  • The Microsoft e-Journal Service. The Microsoft e-Journal Service provides a hosted, full-service solution to support scholarly societies and small and medium-sized publishers in the production of online-only journals. It is designed to simplify the self-publishing of workshop and conference proceedings and smaller journals, as well as online collaboration between authors. An alpha version, available now, is hosted via Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, allowing organizations to utilize this functionality without building or maintaining any infrastructure.
  • The Research Information Centre. Developed in close collaboration with the British Library, the Research Information Centre is a virtual research environment (VRE) designed to allow research partners to store, share, discuss, manage, find and track all the components of a research project—including data, references, papers, bookmarks, proposals, internal messages, information and findings — within a simple interface. By operationalizing the research workflow, this tool can help simplify the process of information search, facilitate discovery, effectively manage research objects, and enable versioning and archiving. The collaboration environment resides within a hosted SharePoint Server 2007 platform, which is accessible from a Web browser. This service is currently in beta testing. The British Library is planning to offer this as a hosted service, and Microsoft intends to share the code widely by the end of the year.
  • Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office 2007. This download for Microsoft Office Word 2007, Office PowerPoint 2007 and Office Excel 2007 lets individuals embed a Creative Commons license directly into their Microsoft Office documents. By linking from the Microsoft Office document to the Creative Commons Web site (via a Web service), this add-in allows an author to select the appropriate license and ensure that it is stored within that specific version of the file. Available now.
  • Article Authoring Add-in for Microsoft Word 2007. This add-in for Office Word 2007 permits authors and editors to open and save Word files in the National Library of Medicine’s NLM DTD format, which is used for publishing and archiving (as well as the NLM Book format). In addition, the add-in enables more metadata to be captured at the authoring stage and enables semantic information to be preserved through the publishing process, which is essential for enabling search and semantic analysis once the articles are archived at information repositories. The add-in also aims at simplifying the authoring, submission and interaction process between authors and journals. Available now. 

More information is available at Science: Scholarly Communication.