If you need to know something, clarify something or just check some facts you used to be told “phone a friend”. Nowadays even your gran would probably tell you to “Google it”. Yet, as Google’s vast database has grown and SEO experts have tried hard to hog the top search results, actually finding those facts and knowing that they are from a trusted source has become a little more cloudy. Once found, then citing that in any homework, coursework or article has then remained complicated too. Google always on top of customer feeling have spotted this and tried to address it, especially for professional writers and researchers.

Google recently unveiled a new research tool as part of its Google Docs offering, aimed at helping writers streamline web-research and how it flows into their end documents. The tool enables you to effectively search in an in-page window of the Google Doc you are working on. The results thrown up can then be 1) viewed in a new window 2) created as a link straight into your document or 3) created as a footnoted to text creating a citation for the web link. In terms of images you can search via licence (ie immediately sort out those free-to-use) and drag and drop from your search into the Google Doc. There’s a similar drag-and-drop usability for Google Maps.

While not perfect and not really combating the issue of sorting the wheat from the chaff, the tool is a time-saver for those trying to put papers or presentations together to tight deadlines.

Have you tried the new research tool? Do you enjoy the new functionality? Do you have any tips for others using the web as a research tool?

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