Can You Publish at Google?

May 6, 2008

As part of the interview process at Google we try to describe what it is like to do research here. A common question I get is "How hard is it to publish at Google?" I want to dispel the myth that it is hard. It is easy to publish, easy to put code into open source, easy to give talks, etc. But it is also easy for great research to become great engineering, and that is an incredible lure. Great barriers of despair exist between research and development at many companies; researchers can find it hard to have impact beyond demos, papers, or patents.

Here at Google it is not uncommon for researchers to work on products (and is modus operandi for me); you can come up with something interesting, experiment to convince yourself and others that it is worthwhile, and then work as part of the team to build it and help create world-changing products. But are you willing to do that? That decision is the hard part, not publishing a paper.

I think from a Google standpoint, we need to make sure these barriers don't form, that making products, experimenting and having a venue for trying bold new approaches continues to be part of the culture.