How Google Has Changed Student Research

You know how some days, you feel older than others? I always tend to feel old when I look at education trends and examine just how far technology has come since I was in graduate school (which really doesn’t feel that long ago).  Even though I was in graduate school during the late 2000’s,  many things still had not made the jump to being technology based. Many things were tech based, but some of the big stuff – like research- had only come about halfway.

While I certainly wasn’t sifting through paper records to find out what library had the books I needed for a lit review, I still had to call the library to order them (they didn’t let you request interlibrary loan online at that time), wait for the physical books to arrive, and then schlep them home to sift through them. I’m sure many of you have the same reaction to this as I do – blech. 

The handy infographic below takes a look at how Google has changed student research with a special focus on graduate students. Google is not only the most widely used search engine, but they’ve developed a lot of education specific research tools to help students out. Keep reading to learn more.

How Google Has Changed Research For Grad Students

  • 94% of US students equate research with using Google
  • 75% of students use Wikipedia and other online encyclopedias
  • 87%  of US adults use search engines
  • About 30% of all humans use the internet
  • Between 75 and 92% of people go online and use a search engine (varies by age group)
  • 66.7% of users use Google as their search engine
  • 12.3 billion searches per year are done with Google

Google offers many different research tools:

  • Google Scholar
  • Google App Engine
  • Chrome Flash Cards
  • Google Books
  • Google Earth
  • Google Play
  • YouTube Edu



  1. Walter Ruggieri

    April 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    I remember working on my masters thesis and being grateful that I could access my universities database and search for article and book titles without having to leave my home. Things have changed! Now you can search for just about anything in full text. The days of combing through libraries are almost over. The potential for future learning is awesome.

    • Steve Bowman

      April 17, 2014 at 10:36 am

      “Now you can search for just about anything in full text.”

      You can indeed! But try actually obtaining the full-text! I have many students who come to University and are astonished that they cannot have full access to anything that they can find on a ‘Google’ or other search.

      “The days of combing through libraries are almost over.”

      For the reason above, this is definitely not the case, it is only through continued efforts (at great expense) by educational institutions that any full-text content is available to our students.

  2. Mary Maguire

    April 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    It’s a myth that you can find most info online full text – publishers do like their payment – how many times have you found just what you were looking for via Google but when you tried to access you were asked to ‘cough up’!! Long live libraries and the publications they subscribe to on our behalf.

  3. Peter Lor

    April 17, 2014 at 4:42 am

    I work online in a small town, far from my university campus. I use Google every day, and Wikipedia a lot too (with caution). So yes, this is fantastic progress.
    BUT in my line of international and comparative research I would make an utter fool of myself if I used only free online material. Abstracting and indexing (A&I) databases are essential tools for scholarly work. Without them I would miss loads of important stuff. Also, well over half the resources I use are either online behind paywalls or not available online at all. I rely on two university libraries for access to I&A databases and pay-to-view digital material and I make heavy use of the inter-library lending unit of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Golda Meir Library, for rapid access to material that is not online, but still sitting in library stacks all over the USA and beyond. And by the way, those library stacks, despite the worn-out journalistic cliché, are rarely musty or dusty.
    Viva, Libraries! Viva!