The beta version of Windows Live Academic Search is now available: http://academic.live.com/. It appears to me that the system is under a very heavy load, so you may want to wait a bit before giving it a test drive.
The Windows Live Academic Search development team now has a Weblog. The official press release is now available. A list of participants in Microsoft’s MSN Search Champs V4, some of whom gave Microsoft detailed feedback about Windows Live Academic Search is also available.
Windows Live Academic Search Overview
The home page provides a search box, brief overview, an explanation of search results, and an FAQ.
The system’s indexed content is limited to Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Physics journals and conferences, including: "6 million records from approximately 4300 journals and 2000 conferences." Here is a list of works indexed. Relevance is determined by: (1) "quality of match of the search term with the content of the paper", and (2) "authoritativeness of the paper." Citation count is not being used in the ranking algorithm at this time.
The interface has the following key features:
- Search box: My understanding is that all MSN search commands work, but I have not tested this.
- Slider bar: Expands or restricts the amount of information shown for each hit in the search results (left side of screen).
- Search results:
- Author and title information in hits are linked (blue links).
- Other hit links include search the Web for the item, CiteSeer citations (if available), show abstract, and hide abstract (grey links).
- Sort by: You can sort search results by relevance, date (oldest), date (newest), author, journal, and conference. The last three sorts provide a header that precedes the listed search results: for example, John Doe (2).
- "+add to Live.com": Adds the search to your Windows Live page. Three clickable buttons appear above the stored search on that page: Web, News, Feeds. When one is clicked, the search is repeated in the appropriate information source (e.g. RSS feeds).
- Preview pane: The right side of the screen is used to display the fielded abstract, BibTex formatted abstract, or EndNote formatted abstract.
Highlights from the Home Page FAQ
- More content?: "We are not ready to provide a detailed timeline on when we will have a comprehensive index by subject."
- OpenUrl: "You will be able to click on the link to your library Open URL resolver to determine the availability of full text access."
- Preferences: "While the version of Academic search does not have a preference page, future versions will have that functionality."
Highlights from Windows Live Academic Information: Librarians
- OpenURL: "If Academic search can identify that a user is affiliated with your institution, appropriate search results will be accompanied by a link to your OpenURL resolver vendor. We request that you work with your link resolver company and give them permission to provide the necessary information about your institution to us."
- RSS feeds for searches: "When a new article related to that search is posted, they [researchers] are alerted instantly via an RSS feed."
Highlights from Windows Live Academic Information: Publishers
- Participation: "Talk to Crossref about the Crossref/Academic search partnership to receive information on the program and instructions on how to initiate participation."
- Search Results: "Therefore, search results from journals that are indexed from publishers and are published articles will always be marked ‘Published Version’. This ensures that users know which result is the official version. If there are many instances of the same article (from other sources such as a web-crawl), we will always link the search result heading to the version on the publisher’s site."
- Abstract information: "We require that non-subscribers at least see an abstract of the paper when they land on your site from our search results page." However, it also says:
"Academic search provides for three levels of display in the preview pane:
- Full abstract
- First 140 characters from abstract
- Nothing from the abstract
Publishers can choose any of these options for their content."