Google docs - new "Research" feature

Google docs has just integrated a new feature which they call the "Research tool" - described here :
It's essentially a fairly standard google search, but the interesting bit is the option to cite the results. It automatically inserts a footnote and a reference like this : " "Handicap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." 2004. 15 May. 2012 " There is no way to customise the citation format and it's limited to the kind of thing you can find in a google search (options are "everything", images, and quotes).
Obviously this is very basic, especially when compared with what the Zotero plugins for Word/LibreOffice can do - but I thought it noteworthy. It shows the google folks are conscious that citation is an issue. It also makes me dream of there being a similar search column on the right hand side of my google doc which would search my Zotero database rather than google...
I know nothing about the Google Docs API, but I fear it would not stretch some kind of piggy-backing by Zotero on this rudimentary citation mechanism? Can anyone comment?
  • As far as I've been able to tell, the way they insert citations is by inserting formatted text and then ignoring where it came from, which is no different than drag/drop from the zotero client (except docs offers no options for formatting). As far as I know the issue of Google Docs lacking the API features needed for word/open office level integration still remains.
  • This feature doesn't support updating citations after they've been inserted, so it's not really different from what you can achieve by dragging a reference from the Zotero pane into a Google Doc. As far as we know, there's no API that would permit updating citations after insertion, either.
  • Just a quick thought, but I think if someone really wanted to make an addon for zotero that would work like word/LO addons, you could do something like RTF scan, except that you would format the citation and bibliography and enclose the formatted string inside curly braces (or something else that's Zotero specific), possibly along with other metadata needed for updating. This way you could see if there are any errors that need to be fixed in Zotero library and Zotero would know what to update. It would be a little messy (perhaps use some tiny font for the extra metadata?) when you're writing, but once you're happy with the results, you could finalize the citations by making Zotero remove all the formatting and extra metadata.
  • thanks for the replies - that makes sense, especially the point about the ready-formatted text.
    Just to keep all the elements in one thread, I now see they have introduced search options for google scholar and citation in three standard formats but that does not change anything about the problems discussed above.
  • I posted a comment on Google+ asking for adding this API feature to their Google Docs. It would be a good idea for other people to ask. The more people ask the better the chance we have to get those API added.
  • I created a request thread in Google Docs group.
  • If the API is missing: How was this thing possible for WizFolio? It seems that the support is broken since 2010. Does that mean that it would have been possible before 2010?
  • Google Docs pre-2010 was a fancy HTML editor with a contenteditable div. It was possible to insert arbitrary HTML into it, so yes, we could implement fields.

    Google Docs post-2010 uses its own text layout engine written in JavaScript and renders to the page using canvas. Hooking into its internal interfaces would be a considerable feat, and even if it were possible to get it to work, there's a good chance an update would break things.
  • I've old google doc which does not have research tool.
    I'm facing two problems:

    1. I'm copying some of my writings from MS word to google doc. However the zotero references are not copied into google doc.

    2. Also, how do I add zotero plugin to google doc to access my zotero library ?

    Thanks a lot.
  • you can't do either of those things. We'll have a workflow for google docs shortly, but it won't be quite as convenient as the Word plugin.
  • ok, thanks.

    I've a small problem in the word docs. When I'm copying some part from a word document which already has a zotero bibliography into another document, the references are being copied but not being displayed. How to display them ? Thanks .
  • Do I have to just do insert bibliography ?
  • probably. But this has gone far away from the contents of this thread. If you're still having problems, please start a new thread and describe your issue in some more detail.
  • edited May 6, 2013
    You can now use Google Docs with Zotero, using the recently released RTF/ODF Scan plugin for Firefox and Standalone Zotero.
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