Anything that encourages people to cite their sources properly is inarguably a Good Thing, in my professorial opinion, so I’m a fan of this feature and plan to make sure that all my students know about it. Users of Zotero or other bibliographic software (and every single student or faculty member who writes research papers should be a user of some kind of bibliographic software) will know the insane glee that comes from being able to insert a properly formatted citation with just a click or two instead of having to type the whole thing in, so I do think that having this feature in Google Docs will increase students’ willingness to cite.
Not the same thing, from our point of view. The search will bring up maps and images, but, if you’ll pardon my French, big freaking deal: many of the results are not good sources for “research” at all. I wish very much that Google had seen fit to allow users to choose to confine their search to Google Scholar and/or Google Books results — so much do I wish it that I asked for this feature on the Google Docs forums. The only ways to “narrow your search” currently available are to “Everything,” “Images,” and “Quotes,” none of which are very useful for academic purposes.
Also, there’s only one citation style available for the footnote, and no, it’s not MLA, nor APA, nor any other style belonging to academia. It is evidently Google’s own citation style, the sole elements of which seem to be Title, Creation Date, Access Date, and URL.
In the example above, you can see that this style makes no distinction between item types: they’re all web pages, even results from Google Books. The year that follows the title, which I called above “Creation Date,” since that would be logical, is not precisely a Creation Date, or at any rate not an accurate one — it may well be a “Crawl Date,” the date Google first noticed that the web page existed. There were versions of the Wikipedia page for “Alexandria” as early as 2001, but Google Research Tool gives its year as 2003; and the book What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis was actually published in 2009, though perhaps it didn’t have its own page in Google Books until 2011.
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