Digital Culture

Microsoft Academic Live Search

Today, Microsoft launched their answer to Google Scholar: Microsoft Academic Live Search. It’s an interesting product, but clearly young. Google Scholar is much larger (Academic Live currently only indexes a few scientific sources), and seems to have more integration with libraries. But the interface for Academic Live is much better, from a librarian’s point of view. Here’s a quick roundup of the important differences:

  • Academic Live allows sorting of results…Google Scholar only sorts by relevance
  • Academic Live has a much better interface, and allows customization of what you see…Google Scholar does not
  • Academic Live has built in support for citation managers like EndNote…Google Scholar doesn’t
  • Academic Live does a very poor job of letting you know if a paper is available freely, or via library subscription…Google Scholar is far ahead in this area

In all, it’s nice to see some competition, even if it is from the evil empire. Librarians will definitely have to keep an eye on this, and see how we can integrate it into our search strategies. Things I’d like to see:

  • RSS feeds for common searches…Google does it for News, why not Scholar?
  • Live Bibliography: using GreaseMonkey or some other client side script, enable an automatic search of information in a bibliography of a paper…being able to look at a bibliography, and link out of it to another Google Scholar search would be amazing

Last thought: in the FAQ, Microsoft Academic Live suggests that if a library is interested in getting their OpenURL resolver attached to Academic Live, they contact their link resolver company. This strikes me as a completely unrealistic expectation. We’re supposed to drop our provider a line, and then expect them to provide Microsoft with our IP range? Seems easier to do it the Google way, and have each school contact Google if they want listing.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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