Microsoft Researcher for Word

Writers and students may be interested in the new search tools Microsoft has added to Word, and some new tricks to Powerpoint and Outlook.

Microsoft wants you to write better, stay focused and bore fewer people, TechCrunch (July 26)

With Researcher for Word, the team is now building a new tool into Word that helps you find information regarding the topic about which you are writing. Those sources can be online journals and encyclopedias, history databases, national science and health centers, as well as other trustworthy sites, and you can import formatted references directly into Word.

There is a longer description in Microsoft just made it way easier to write a research paper with Word , The Verge. (July 26)

Researcher uses Microsoft’s Bing Knowledge Graph to query content from the internet and then pull it straight into Word. Microsoft has a curated list of trusted sources and reference materials which the company plans to expand upon over time. If you add source material, it will even automatically create the citation in your bibliography as part of your research paper. If you’re a student using Office 365 then Researcher is available immediately, and Microsoft is planning to bring the feature to mobile variants of Office in the future.

At PowerPoint there is a new Zoom feature for forming and moving to sections more easilty.

How to build a web alert

Tremendous article by Tara Calishain at Research Buzz on how she built an “information trap” (ie a web monitoring program) on a subject she knows little about for a client, her husband using methods for building vocabulary. In this she shows the selective use of several advanced Google search features as well as Google Trends. She records it all in her One Note folder. Lots of pointers for novice and expert.

Anatomy of an Information Trap, Part I: Starting From Scratch, Research Buzz (July 12)

Socratic Search

Socrates Search directs us to think as Socrates would in order to explore and examine – not just accept the first result. Ted Hunt, a graduate of the Royal College of Art in the UK, has developed a search engine that is based on Google Custom Search and assists the user in applying the Socratic method. These are: Seek Clarity, Challenge Assumptions, View Evidence, Explore Alternatives or Consider Implications.

Socrates Search Engine

Results do differ – or at least are reordered according to the button clicked. The custom search might be selecting  particular sources, or perhaps adding search terms. Would be nice to be able to see under the hood. For now – an interesting approach – and a reminder that we would do well to apply the Socractic method.

See Ted Hunt’s Socratic Search invites Google users to question their assumptions in dezeen (June 24)

Importance of words

In web searching, as I said many times in my classes, it’s all about words – picking the exact ones for locating what you need. Dan Russell at Google shows how true this is in  a search challenge to find terms that would have been used in earlier times.

What was that word again? Effective searching with old terms. SearchResearch (June21)

the language of the past is somewhat different than the one we speak (and write) now.

As a consequence, when you’re trying to search for historical content, you sometimes (often?) have to shift your language to accommodate the way authors in the past would have written.

He lays out three examples – the strategies – types of sources to look for, the search terms, and results.

Top Level Domains – proliferation

Top-level domain codes used to be useful to searchers in limiting to a type of site (gov, edu) or country (uk, ca). That was when codes were fairly pure and few. For several years the generic codes have been expanded, and country codes have been used for other than the country (eg tv). Wallace Koehler writes Top-Level Domain Name Explosions: Teapot Tempest in Online Searcher (May/June). He describes the situation well, providing an account of the proliferation over the past 10 years. Personally, I think the growth and confusion made using top-level domains in a search query nearly useless, but I will agree that searchers should know enough about TLDs to recognize and assess them in search results and occasionally use as a filter. “Just as website owners must engage in defensive registrations of sTLDs and ccTLDs, web searchers would be wise to be equally defensive when delving into the web.”