Regardless of how much content is available to today’s researchers, it loses value if it cannot be properly managed and shared. At this week’s 14th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL) at Glasgow University in Scotland, Microsoft Research will present the prototype of ScholarLynk, a desktop solution designed to help researchers more effectively manage, organize, and share ideas and information.
One of the main goals of ScholarLynk is to make scholarly data as easy to access and manage as one’s personal music collection. Unlike other offerings, ScholarLynk doesn’t lock the user into a particular tool or service. Instead, it bridges data silos by enabling the user to manage information across repositories and applications.
ScholarLynk builds on research that was conducted as part of the Research Desktop project at Microsoft Research Cambridge. It leverages the infrastructure that was built as part of the Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research (DRIVER), a two-phase project funded by the European Union to provide access to over two and a half million publications in 250 repositories located in 33 countries. Over the last year, DRIVER has also spawned the formation of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). Microsoft Research is a sponsor of COAR; Tony Hey, corporate vice president of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research, serves on the organization’s advisory board.
By providing a unified interface for managing desktop and web data sources, ScholarLynk allows researchers to access the content of the DRIVER repositories from within their own computing environment. It also supports a highly collaborative environment, essential for projects being undertaken by more than one researcher. Currently, the prototype offers the ability to create reading lists by tagging the desired resources, seamlessly incorporating remote resources onto the desktop, and to communicate contextually by sharing readings lists and collaborating with other users of ScholarLynk. Efforts are underway to include additional communication tools that will provide automatic subscription notifications, conversational capabilities, and routine updates when a user’s work is edited or cited by others. Such tools will further connect ScholarLynk users with relevant content.
In addition to connecting to the DRIVER repositories, the long-term vision for ScholarLynk is for it to evolve into a platform that can provide federated access to multiple repositories and portals, such as Microsoft Academic Search, Google Scholar, and CiteULike. Currently in prototype form, ScholarLynk will be available for download by the end of 2010.
Alex Wade, director for Scholarly Communication, External Research, a division of Microsoft Research