• United States
Senior Editor

Word feature sends academics into a tizzy

Apr 25, 20061 min
Data Center

This is a great story.

Academics are wising up to features in Microsoft Word that allow “authors to find out which of their rivals have rubbished their work, raising the possibility of some serious bunfighting at research conferences.”

We don’t know what “bunfighting” is but, man, it sounds like a good scene.

Apparently in a world far from our own, academics review each other’s writings and determine which should be published and which should hit the circular file. Yet in that publish-or-perish environment, anonymity is paramount so reviewers can offer honest criticism and feedback without fear of hard feelings or getting an eraser upside the head.

Now someone in the tweed-and-elbow-patch set realized that Word basically keeps a whole record of who said what and when in the document, which has set “peer review” into a tailspin and sent unpublished authors digging through their old Word docs to see who trashed their article.

Naturally, Microsoft is going to ruin all this fun, as the next version of Office will come with a toolkit called Document Inspector which will help users strip out private data.