Microsoft Research Unveils Tools For Knowledge-Sharing Researchers

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At the 9th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft's External Research Division, revealed some new tools for improving the process of doing research. The tools consist of a set of free software programs that let researchers and scholars seamlessly publish, preserve, and share data. Specifically, this tool set includes the following:

  • Add-ins 
    • The Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007 enables authors and editors to open and save Microsoft Office Word files in the National Library of Medicine's NLM XML format, a file format that is used in the publishing and archiving of scientific and technical articles. It also enables additional 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.
    • The Creative Commons Add-in for Office 2007 is an add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007, Office PowerPoint 2007, and Office Excel 2007 that enables individuals to embed a Creative Commons license directly into their Microsoft Office documents. The add-in allows an author of a Microsoft Office document to choose a Creative Commons license from those available on the Creative Commons Web site (by using the Creative Commons Web service). The embedded license links directly to its online representation on the Creative Commons Web site while a machine-readable representation is stored in the Office Open XML document. By using Creative Commons licenses, you can express your intentions regarding how others may use your work.
    • The Microsoft Math Add-in enhances Microsoft Office Word 2007 with computational and graphing capabilities. With the add-in, you can perform the following: plot a function, equation, or inequality; solve an equation or inequality; calculate a numerical result, and simplify an algebraic expression.
  • The Microsoft e-Journal Service: The Microsoft eJournal Service will provide a hosted, full-service solution to support scholarly societies, small publishers, 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. The service supports managing the submission and review of articles in any format, and the deposit of final articles in information repositories by using the SWORD protocol. An alpha version, available now, is hosted via Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007—allowing organizations to utilize this functionality without provisioning or maintaining any infrastructure.
  • Research Output Repository Platform: This platform for building repositories takes advantage of the strengths of Microsoft SQL Server 2008, the Microsoft Entity Framework, and the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. The technology, to be available through a free download, provides services that are based on open community protocols (such as the Open Archives Initiative–Object Reuse and Exchange [OAI-ORE], SWORD, and so on), which enables interoperability and integration with other tools and services. An included toolkit and code samples will allow developers to present data in original ways, demonstrating, for example, the relationships between a published paper, authors, research data, associated lectures, presentation slides, or PDFs. Currently in a limited alpha release, an open beta version will be available later in 2008. (Links: Community Forum, sample code).
  • The Research Information Centre: In close partnership with the British Library, this collaborative workspace will be hosted via Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and will allow researchers to collaborate throughout the entire research project workflow, from seeking research funding to searching and collecting information, as well as managing data, papers and other research objects throughout the research process.

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