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Microsoft Research launches new tools for knowledge sharing


Donna Wentworth writes over at the Science Commons blog

Big news:  Microsoft Research has unveiled new add-ins for some of the most popular Microsoft products to make them more useful for the scientific community — including tools for creating, sharing and preserving research in the formats used by scientific publishers and digital archives. The suite of add-ins, described in detail here, includes the Creative Commons Add-in for Office 2007, which lets anyone embed a Creative Commons license directly into their documents.

Using the Creative Commons Add-in,  you can choose from among the licenses available on the CC site to express your intentions regarding the use of your work. The embedded license links directly to its online representation at the CC site, while a machine-readable representation is stored in the Office Open XML document.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, reporting on the launch:

“Saying it wants to help scholars and publishers write, edit, and publish academic articles, this week Microsoft Corporation rolled out a set of new software tools to perform those tasks, as well as to navigate thorny copyright issues and find and share scholarly data. …

For example, the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007 enables authors to structure and annotate their documents according to formats that publishers and digital archives require. The articles can then be converted easily to formats that facilitate their digital storage and preservation. The company is offering the new software free to licensed users of Word and other Microsoft products.

The tool allows users to create documents in the widely used format developed by the National Library of Medicine’s free digital archive of peer-reviewed biomedical and life-sciences journal literature, PubMed Central. But users will also be able to shape the software to suit other formats because the code for the tool is openly accessible and freely adaptable. …

“We’ve never before addressed what we could put around Office, Excel, SharePoint, and our other programs to make them more useful for science,” said Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s external-research division. “For example, Word was not tailored for scientific papers. But we decided to see, Can we make it more useful in that way?”

He said the company is also responding to the demand for researchers to provide greater access to their findings, and even their research data. Already the National Institutes of Health requires that any publications from research it finances be placed in PubMed Central within one year of publication. The National Science Foundation has a similar requirement, as do Harvard University’s faculties of law and of arts and sciences.

Such developments have increasingly raised concerns about copyrights and fair reuse of archived materials. So to help authors, publishers, and databases embed information about copyrights and licenses in Microsoft Office documents, the company released another free product, called the Creative Commons Add-in for Office 2007.”

Science Commons visited the development team working on the add-ins in Seattle last year, and we’re excited to support this initiative.

“There are fundamental shifts taking place in how we manage the flow of scientific knowledge, and they bring demand for new tools that expand our choices for knowledge sharing and collaboration,” says John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science at Creative Commons. “We’re thrilled that Microsoft has taken these important steps to meet that demand.”

Posted 01 August 2008