The G-quadruplex (G4) is a non-canonical nucleic acid structure which regulates important cellular processes. RNA G4s have recently been shown to exist in human cells and be biologically significant. Described herein is a new approach to detect and map RNA G4s in cellular transcripts. This method exploits the specific control of RNA G4-cation and RNA G4-ligand interactions during reverse transcription, by using a selective reverse transcriptase to monitor RNA G4-mediated reverse transcriptase stalling (RTS) events. Importantly, a ligation-amplification strategy is coupled with RTS, and enables detection and mapping of G4s in important, low-abundance cellular RNAs. Strong evidence is provided for G4 formation in full-length cellular human telomerase RNA, offering important insights into its cellular function.