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Microsoft Releases Open Tools for Scientific Research



Information necessary for science to progress can be hard to find. Addressing this challenge for researchers, Microsoft and Creative Commons have announced the release of the Ontology Add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007 that will enable authors to easily add scientific hyperlinks as semantic annotations, drawn from ontologies, to their documents and research papers. Ontologies are shared vocabularies created and maintained by different academic domains to model their fields of study.

This Add-in will make it easier for scientists to link their documents to the Web in a meaningful way. Deployed on a wide scale, ontology-enabled scientific publishing will provide a Web boost to scientific discovery.

Science Commons, a division of Creative Commons, is incubating the adoption of semantic scientific publishing through creation of a database of ontologies and development of supporting technical standards and code. Microsoft Research has built a technology bridge to enable the link between Microsoft Office Word 2007 and these ontologies.

"The Web is broken for scientific researchers -- full of hyperlinks of scholarly articles, but it is nearly impossible for us to find what we need," said John Wilbanks, vice president for Science at Creative Commons. "The semantic Web tool will help bridge the gap between basic research and meaningful discovery, unlocking the value of research so more people can benefit from the work scientists are doing."

Microsoft is making the source code for both the Ontology Add-in for Office Word 2007 and the Creative Commons Add-in for Office Word 2007 tool available under the Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) at http://ucsdbiolit.codeplex.com and http://ccaddin2007.codeplex.com,respectively.

By making the source code for the Ontology Add-in available under an open source license, Microsoft is allowing users to improve the Add-in or even to port it to other publishing systems, facilitating the growth of scientific semantic publishing, linking vast knowledge systems and furthering a wide range of work in biology, computer science, chemistry, history and other academic fields. As a result, when researchers run structured queries in the Web, it will be easier to find peer-related documents and mark up papers as science evolves.

The Ontology Add-in for Word 2007 is enabled by Microsoft Office Word's Open XML Formats underpinnings and its extensibility in the form of smart tags.

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works -- whether owned or in the public domain. Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists and educators that build upon the "all rights reserved" concept of traditional copyright to offer a voluntary "some rights reserved" approach. It is sustained by the generous support of various foundations including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Omidyar Network Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as members of the public.


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