Research via Google alone: Are you crazy or just lazy?

Recent research has suggested that an overwhelming number of people think they can get all the information they need on the basis of a Google search.  The majority believe there is no need to probe further.  Now imagine, if 98% of people got by on a web search for their data, think how much better you could achieve if you worked in the other 2%, looking further than Google.

Even if you did one extra thing to boost your research, you’d be well on the way to producing a work with a more rounded research base and a quality bibliography.  You don’t even need to step away from the computer if you don’t want.  Many academic libraries subscribe to hundreds (if not thousands) of specialised journals and you should be just a couple of clicks away.  Your library website and departmental webpages should help you find the treasure.  If not, ask a librarian.  It’s what they’re there for!

Maybe a lot of students think the web search really will provide all the details they need to get on with their work.  Or maybe they think it’s enough to get by and believe any extra work would take too long and wouldn’t produce enough extra credit.  Either way, a lot of you are missing out.  And it doesn’t take a lot of extra time to get a much greater return.

It’s more about walking a couple more yards than it is going the extra mile.  There’s no excuse to scrimp on effort, because it doesn’t take a lot to bring everything into play.  Unfortunately, when you start with the bare minimum of work, you’re likely to build a false belief that any extra work will bog you down completely.  It only takes a couple of goes at sourcing more information to find that the reward for a few minutes extra work can be worth a bomb.  So get to it!

If you want more help on how to take your research further with ease, I have 16 ways to help you with your research in the archives.

And if you’re really interested ( or need help sleeping… 😉 ), you can read more of my thoughts on Google versus libraries if you want.


  1. You don’t need to be self-righteous about it. Google provides access to almost everything on the public web, including journal sites like JSTOR and whatnot. You can even get content from Google Books.

    I don’t think there’s much point criticising it just because it provides a convenient way of researching stuff.

  2. I think you need to establish the difference between searching the regular Google and using Google Scholar since Google Scholar will recognize some of your university’s subscriptions to scholarly journal sites such as JSTOR and will tell you where to find books in your university’s library.

  3. @Mark, Google Scholar, Google Books and the other Google services are amazing. I’m thankful we’ve got such easy access to so much information. But there is a world beyond Google.

    You’re right, Google links to JSTOR, as well as many other specialised journal sites. When accessing via uni, a lot of the content on Google and Google Scholar appears without the need to login, which is fantastic. You’re suddenly able to access a lot more than many members of the public, even though you found it via Google. But not everyone knows exactly what to look for and there are still journals and information sources out there that aren’t accessible via these services. As far as I’m aware, Google do not currently disclose how they source their journal information, who they communicate with, or what goes on to get the information processed. I don’t think the database is that regularly updated either, so the latest research will likely be missing.

    I don’t dispute the convenience of research with Google. I use it a lot of the time. A LOT of the time. But there’s a great deal to be said for taking a small step out of that comfort zone and discovering what Google doesn’t yet index. Fantastic tool, it is. Perfect resource, it’s not.

    @Undine, you’re right. I’ve referred to Google in general and haven’t made reference to the various tools. Google have done a good job in improving what content is searchable with Scholar and I look forward to their continued efforts in allowing as much data as possible to become available. Until it references everything, I’d still be concerned about using it as the sole tool for research.

  4. What I am more worried is that we are producing so many papers that were written based on Google searchers, which defeats the purpose of writing a paper in the first place.

    I mean, if I wanted to find information on the internet, I can always google it myself. Why do I still need to look for papers/journals only to find information that I can get for myself online?

  5. I am a teacher, (and a student). I can’t begin to tell you the number of students who feel that their assignments are almost written if they could just Google, copy, and paste.

    Although Google can lead you to some great references it is important that you check out the veracity of the site you are using. Don’t use OPEd pieces and then quote them as fact. The internet opens your quest for information to a global scale.

    Even Wiki pieces have much faulty information. Try utilizing your library and textbooks to see how the information you’ve garnered is in fact legitimate.

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