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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-size 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.

Microsoft partnered with researchers on the development of the tools to meet academic community needs. The company's product groups also submitted feedback on how the Microsoft technologies could optimally address the entire research process.

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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