With the future of Google’s operations in China still unresolved, a new survey has found that 84 per cent of scientists in the country believe the loss of the search engine would hamper their research.

Nature magazine, which conducted the survey, said that in much of the world, access to Google’s services for finding information or search engine marketing is taken for granted.

However, China’s 380 million internet users have the main Google.com site censored by the state, while politically-sensitive material on Google.cn – which launched in 2006 – is voluntarily filtered by the search engine itself.

In January, Google said a "highly sophisticated and targeted" attack led to the search engine saying it may be forced to "review the feasibility" of operating in China.

According to Nature’s poll, a withdrawal would hit scientific research and international collaboration in the country, as over 80 per cent of respondents said they use Google to find academic studies, while around 60 per cent use it to check on developments in their field.

Ecologist Xiong Zhenqin of Nanjing Agricultural University said: "Research without Google would be like life without electricity."

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