Google and Dissertations
On September 4, 1998, Google was incorporated as a company. And, being a student and a researcher changed forever…
I’ve spoken before about what life was like as a student before the Internet…
We didn’t have Proquest or EBSCOhost. Our libraries were actual buildings. I had to leave my dorm room and trudge across campus (again a physical place back then). At times budget cuts even forced the library to close for certain hours each day. So, I couldn’t even go whenever I wanted. I had to arrive and leave on their schedule!
The main floors of the library were brightly lit. There, the shelves were festooned with books one might read for entertainment or enjoyment. Classic literature and contemporary novels. Popular science and historical surveys.
But, this was not my destination. I had to climb several flights of stairs into the stacks — level after level of dimly lit rows of dusty tomes. These shelves were loaded with books and journals only the truly demented seekers of knowledge would even open.
There I spent hours consulting card catalogs to find Dewey Decimal codes which I then decrypted to receive the next clue on the cruel academic scavenger hunt that was my dissertation research.
I could go on to recount the paper cuts, the copier machines, the sacks of dimes (and later quarters!) I sacrificed to the gods of academia…
But, you don’t have to worry about such things. Google has changed all that. They put the search in research. You can find dozens — even hundreds — of articles for your literature review with a simple search query! No need to trudge across campus — or even be on campus. You can conduct your research from the comfort of your own home or the convenience of your local Starbucks!
So, be grateful that you can find articles on any topic you devise within seconds rather than hours.
Recognize how lucky you are that saving an article takes a single click instead of the laborious and expensive process of photocopying each page, one at the time.
For as much frustration as is still inherent in the dissertation process today, you are immeasurably better off than I was “back in my day!”