| Whether you've just signed up for Research Methods 101 or you're engineering thin-film solar cells for a postdoc project, Google and Microsoft's online research tools might help. |
Google intends to digitize the world's information, but its Book Search has outraged copyright-guarding publishers. Less well known, Google Scholar beta reflects the search star's aim to win over librarians and students. Google Scholar sifts through thousands of journals, from astronomy to veterinary science, in addition to books in the public domain, such as Darwin's Origin of Species. Windows Live Academic Search, on the other hand, currently looks mostly within computer science, physics, medical, and electrical engineering publications.
In our tests, Google's and Microsoft's services worked in markedly different ways. Windows Live Academic creatively organizes its finds. Just mouse over results to view an abstract and drag slider bars to expand or shrink the details. Google Scholar may require more clicking; you'll have to either jump to its Advanced link to drill down by author, publication or subject, or memorize its search tips. On the other hand, Windows Academic offers Sort By links atop its results.
We like that Windows Live Academic lets you sign in and subscribe to a feed by subject so that the latest peer-reviewed articles on, say, crystallography can bubble up within your RSS reader. You can even feed specific results to your Live.com home page. Google Scholar doesn't let you subscribe to updates, but you can embed its search bar on your Web site. Also to Google's credit, Scholar exports citations in more formats, and it displays results in multiple languages. Unfortunately, we occasionally ran into delays and crashes with Windows Live Academic, but we expect the final product to be more stable. Google Scholar and Windows Live Academic Search are free and remain in beta testing, so their features are likely to change.
Other solid science search sites include Scirus, which crawls through journals, conferences and patents back to 1920. ScienceDirect trolls more than 2,600 journals and lets you sign up for e-mail alerts on 24 topics in western and eastern languages. Scopus looks through 15,000 publications in multiple languages dating back to 1966, and Web of Science covers the 20th century, but permission to read referenced publications is usually free only on campuses. All of these services work best if you're surfing from a library or a school that subscribes to pricey scientific journals. If not, sometimes you'll have to pay to read more than article abstracts. For other helpful back-to-school resources, see CNET's top 10 picks for students.
| ||Google Scholar beta ||Windows Live Academic Search beta |
|Browsers ||Any ||Internet Explorer, Firefox |
|Journal topics ||Biology, life sciences, environmental science, business, administration, finance, economics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, computer science, mathematics, medicine, pharmacology, veterinary science, physics, astronomy, planetary science, social sciences, arts, humanities ||Computer science, physics, medicine, electrical engineering. Full list here. |
|View full articles ||Yes, if you're searching from an institution with access ||Yes, if you're searching from an institution with access |
|Look up ||Terms, author, publication, date, related articles, cited by, your library's collection ||Terms, author, publication, conference, date, relevance, your library's collection |
|Sort results by ||Date, journal, journal subject, author ||Date, journal, author, conference |
|Subscribe ||No ||Subscribe to RSS feeds by research topic |
|Export ||BibTex, EndNote, RefMan, RefWorks, WenXianWang ||BibTex, EndNote, RefWorks |
|Integration ||Add Scholar search bar to your Web site ||Display within your personal Live.com page |
|Languages ||Publications in English, Chinese, Spanish, German, and Portuguese |
(Interface also in Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish)
(Interface in 30 languages)
|Sample search results ||Childhood leukemia: 73,400 |
Histerid beetles: 184
|Childhood leukemia: 29,236 |
Histerid beetles: 4
|Available at ||Scholar.google.com ||Academic.live.com |
Read the CNET editor's take