Microsoft Launches Free Collaboration Tools for Researchers

This week, during a summit of researchers in Redmond, Microsoft announced a set of free software tools for helping researchers publish, preserve, and share data. The utilities include an authoring add-in for Word 2007 for capturing document metadata; a Creative Commons add-in for Office 2007; an e-journal service for self-publishing of online-only journals; a research output repository platform; and a collaborative workspace for researchers.

"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 at the heart of the entire process," said Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft's External Research Division. "We're supporting that scholarly communication lifecycle with free software tools to improve interoperability with existing tools used commonly by academics and scholars to better meet their research needs."

The Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007 lets researchers capture metadata at the authoring stage to preserve document structure and semantic information throughout the publishing process. The Creative Commons Add-in for Office 2007 allows authors to embed Creative Commons licenses directly into an Office document (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) by linking to the Creative Commons site via a Web service.

The Microsoft e-Journal Service provides a hosted platform for self-publishing of online-only journals to facilitate the availability of conference proceedings and small and medium-sized journals.

The Research Output Repository Platform helps capture and leverage semantic relationships among academic objects--such as papers, lectures, presentations and video--to facilitate access to these items.

In partnership with the British Library, a workspace will be hosted on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, providing researchers a way to collaborate throughout a project's lifecycle, from seeking funding to searching and collecting information, as well as managing data, papers, and other research objects throughout the research process.

"Technology that effectively addresses the increasing need to integrate the research lifecycle and provide a holistic end-to-end perspective has the potential to revolutionize the way academics collect data, publish findings, and preserve information," said Daniel Pollock, vice president and lead analyst at Outsell, a research and advisory firm specializing in the information and education industries. "Companies that work closely with academia can understand how their products might benefit the scholarly workflow and so inform their product development. Microsoft is engaged with the academic community and is releasing a series of tools aimed at streamlining the academic workflow."

Microsoft partnered with researchers in the development of the tools to obtain input on the application of technology to the needs of the academic community, while Microsoft product groups submitted feedback on how the company's technology could optimally address the entire research process.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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