I was pretty excited back in July when Microsoft announced the release of Researcher and Editor for Word 2016 as part of the Office365. As demonstrated in the above video, this feature looks to offer a very quick reference search tool directly within Word, allowing users to search, insert and reference new content very quickly indeed.
Whilst it took a while for this to be released into NZ, I have now had a chance to have a quick play with it and the possibilities are immediately obvious. There are step-by-step screenshots and video available from MS Support on how to use it here, so I won’t try and duplicate all of that however I will include a few thoughts below.
The obvious concern that might present itself to teachers with an accelerated research tool like this is increased plagiarism. However, I think this highlights the fact that the technology remains the tool for students to use, but the need for quality teaching will always remain. Additionally, the increased ease of citing original sources means students should be getting into better habits of referencing where all of their content has come from.
Within Researcher, users can enter a search term and then results are categorized by:
- Overview – an itemized list of results e.g. the different stages of the career of a sportsman
- Research – content broken down by each source (Wikipedia features heavily here)
- Images – relevant images from within the search
Whilst content added to the Word document is referenced/cited inline, helpfully users can add an auto-generated bibliography at the end of their document to fully reference the original source that has been cited. In my mind, this is gold for students who are wanting to quickly collate a range of sources from the internet that they will then use for an assignment they are writing. The fact that all content is accurately referenced means they can easily go back to read further from the original source, without having that sinking feeling of “which website did I get this information from again?”
Here’s an example of an auto-generated Bibliography (note that it differentiates between types of sources automatically, with the second line referencing an image):
Auto-generated bibliography using Researcher
Here’s a quick introduction to show you just how easy it is to use Researcher to compile information from a range of sources:
I’d be keen to hear how your students are finding Researcher so feel free to drop comments in the section below.
I was sent this tweet from @OfficeInsider in response to my blog post with additional information: