Chinese scientists say their research will be dramatically compromised if Google shuts down its search engine in China. One scientist says it would be like going blind: “If I lose Google, it will [be] just like a man without his eyes.” Another says it “would be like life without electricity.”
Those quotes and several statistics showing the potential impact of a Google-less China on the country’s scientists are detailed in a new Nature magazine article, A land without Google?
Nature surveyed 784 Chinese scientists and 84% said that losing Google would “somewhat or significantly” hamper their research; 78% said that international collaborations would be impacted in the same way. Other revealing stats from the survey include:
- more than 75% of Chinese scientists use Google as their primary search engine for scientific research
- more than 80% use Google to find academic papers
- about 60% use Google to learn about scientific discoveries or the research of other scientists
- only 17% use Baidu as their primary search engine
Google’s future in China has been in doubt since January 12, when the company said it planned to stop censoring its results on Google.cn as required by Chinese law. Discussions between Google and China are reported to be continuing, but no decisions have been made.
The Nature article suggests that, while Google.cn doesn’t necessarily offer a better search algorithm than Baidu for Chinese-language content, it’s necessary for researching English-language material outside of China.
The full survey, in PDF format, can be downloaded here.