I have been using Google Docs as a way to write collaborative academic papers for years now (e.g. Writing the unreadable untext), however, I had not come across the Research Tool before. This tool is changing the way I write research papers because I can easily Google Scholar search for a citation and immediately add it to the paper and reference list.
What I really like about this is that when I’m in a writing mode, I can quickly look something up and add it to my list of things to read later, and then get back to writing. I do not need to disrupt my flow in order to identify areas where I need to do further research/reading. I also like that it automatically adds the citations in APA format.
I also think that this tool will really help speed up our collaborative academic writing process. We often will add something and someone will make a note to “add a reference for this”. Now, when we are editing, we can easily find that reference and add it.
I’ve written before about how I use Bookends to manage my references. This works great for when I’m writing solo documents in Microsoft Word. It is also a great tool to store all my PDFs, so I can find things when I’m looking for them. I won’t stop using it. However, with my dissertation, I’m looking at writing most of my chapters in Google docs and collecting feedback from my supervisor and committee using that format. Since I’m working with my dissertation committee at a distance, this will ease the process. However, once everything has been written, at some point it will need to be assembled into a large monograph. I don’t know that Google Docs is the right tool for that (at least not now). I will likely use Scrivener or Microsoft Word – and with that, I’ll go back to Bookends for reference management.
Here is a brief screencast on how it works: