How To Use The Google Research Tool

google-logo-officialA couple of days ago, we shared some of Google’s lesser known tools that can be put to use in your classroom, and we received a number of questions about a couple of them. One was voice commenting, which we went into much greater detail on yesterday. Today, we’re going to give a quick overview on the other tool that garnered a number of questions – the Google Research Tool.

In a nutshell, it is a nifty little search bar that appears along the right-hand side of your document. You can start a search by typing into the search bar, and narrow your search to specific types of results (such as images or pdfs) with the drop-down menu. The research tool is also smart: when you first open it, it offers suggestions for things you might find useful based on what you are writing about.

Accessing The Research Tool

Many folks don’t realize the research tool is even available to them, because it isn’t front and center and obvious – you have to hunt around for it. Here’s how to find it from your document in Drive:

Select the Research option from the Tools menu.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 11.09.13 AM

You can use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + ⌘ + Shift + I on a Mac, Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I on a PC).

To find information relating to something specific you’re writing about, you can just type in the word or words into the research search bar on the right.

Alternatively, you can highlight the words in the text of the document, and use the keyboard shortcut or the research option from the tools menu as described above.  The results will appear below the search bar.

If you select a particular search result, you get three options (as seen below): Preview, Insert Link, or Cite. Preview brings up a small box so you can preview the site it links to. Click on the site link at the top of the preview pane to open this page in a separate window, or click the arrow on the left edge to close the preview. Insert link, well, inserts a link into your text to that particular resource in the body of your text, and cite makes a footnote of the resource in the body of your text.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 11.12.42 AM


You can search specifically for the type of results you want. Images, tables, videos, quotations, citations, places, personal results, and dictionary results are some of the options.


You have the option to select a default format for citations added to your document.

To do this, click the drop-down arrow below the search bar, and select your desired format – MLA, APA, or Chicago.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 11.22.09 AM