Google Scholar Vs. Microsoft Academic: A Comprehensive Comparison

When it comes to academic search engines, most scholars use either their library’s catalogs and databases or services like Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic.

There are other options like Scopus and Web of Sciences too. But because they’re paid services, most scholars try to avoid them as much as possible.

If you’re tasked with writing a thesis or an essay, you must be confused between Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic. Well, in this article, we’ll compare the two services in juxtaposition.

This will help you decide for yourself which academic search engine to utilize for your project.

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a search engine developed and maintained by Google to facilitate the searching of scholarly materials.

It works the same way as a regular Google search does. Your search for a topic or a researcher and the search engine will return all the results matching that search term.

Google Scholar uses crawlers known as Google bots to find the documents listed on various academic publication sites.

The results will consist of citations to articles, e-books, PDF reports, public documents, or similar online materials. You also get the results across disciplines. So if you’ve searched on a domain in biology, you may also get relevant results from physics if there’s a correlation.

The documents are ranked based on the content, the publication journal, the author, and how often it has been cited.

This is a really powerful way to quickly sort through the scholarly materials.

What is Microsoft Academic?

Microsoft Academia is a web search engine developed by Microsoft to search and find academic literature present in the online format. It replaced the now-defunct Microsoft Academic Search that ended development in 2012.

This service rivals Google Scholar and aims to serve better search results that utilize semantic search technologies.

Microsoft Academic works in the same way as Google Search. Your search for a topic, an author, a journal, or a combination of these and see the matching results. The results can be documents, e-books, publications, citations, etc.

Google Scholar vs. Microsoft Academic

To compare the two academic search engines, we need to juxtapose certain metrics. This will make the comparison fairer and easier.

We’ll take the following metrics into consideration for this purpose:

  • Search and Ranking
  • Coverage
  • Results Interface
  • Export

So, let’s get to work!

Search and Ranking

When you perform a search on either Google Scholar or Microsoft Academic, there’s a lot that goes behind the scenes. You may not see them, but an algorithm sorts through the papers, e-books, and citations.

Both Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic use different search mechanisms to find the information.

First, let’s consider the case of Google Scholar. It uses a complex algorithm to sort through the articles and academic pages. As pointed out in the article by Joeran Beel and Bela Gipp, Google takes multiple factors into account when checking for relevancy between the search and the academic materials.

This includes citation counts, search term occurrence in the text, search term frequency, author name, journal name, among other metrics.

They concluded that citation count was by far the most significant factor in ranking. So, the Google Scholar search engine is better if you’re searching for standard literature with a lot of citations to it.

But it’s not well suited for gems or papers that offer contrasting views to the mainstream.

On the other hand, Microsoft Academic uses semantic search to get the information. It means the algorithm understands the context before searching and delivering the results.

The algorithm knows to discern between keywords, author name, publication, institutions, etc. It then determines the true meaning and intent behind the search rather than simply matching keywords with text.

This way of searching can be more accurate and relevant for certain topics.


Coverage is the total amount of information available in the search engine’s database. It regularly indexes and scrapes for papers and publications. The more coverage a search engine has, the better.

While the data might not be accurate, Google Scholar has coverage of close to 200 million articles. Microsoft Academia has this information available on its website, and it has access to almost 250 articles.

Along with that, Microsoft has 261 million authors, 739,629 topics, and 48,997 journals in its Entity Analytics database.

Results Interface

Both the academic search engines offer rich information on the topics.

On Google Scholar, you can search and apply filters like “Since Year” and “Sort by Date.” Abstracts are freely available for certain articles, along with the link to the entire article.

Microsoft Academia has a comparatively better interface in terms of design. The filtering options like topics, sub-topics, publication types, authors are present.


For exporting the full citations to your bibliography manager, you can visit the Settings page and select your preferred export format.

Formats available in Google Scholar are APA, MLA, Chicago, RIS, and BibTex.

The formats available on Microsoft Academia are rather limited. You can only choose from APA, MLA, and BibTex.

To Sum Up

No one academic search engine is superior to another conclusively. It depends on the topic and your preference.

The search results in the academic search engines are limited to 1,000 results per search. To get access to more results, you can use a search API  like SERP API. You can get access to more content and citations.