How To's and Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides how to’s and frequently asked questions for the Australian Search Experience project.
To join the project visit the main Australian Search Experience project page.


If you need extra help – try our step by step interactive installation guide.

If you experience any difficulties during this process, please contact our project team via email at


Why is this study being conducted?
We want to better understand the decisions that search algorithms make and whether the information you receive is influenced by your search profile. We also want to determine how the information you receive changes over time.

What does participation involve?

Participation involves downloading our unique browser plugin by following the steps on the website. Once installation is complete, you don’t need to do anything else. The software will query Google and other search engines for a set number of search terms from time to time, and anonymously report the results back to a central database, so that we can analyse variations in search results between users, and over time. Search terms will reflect current news trends such as information regarding COVID-19.

What does the plugin do?

This plugin allows us to automatically send search queries to Google and other search engines up to six times a day. Searches are only conducted when your computer is turned on and the browser is open.

Will you see my search history?

No, we will not see your search history. The search results are anonymous but will allow us to determine which factors might influence the weighting of search results.

Does the plugin affect my search history?

You will see the search terms used by the plugin in your search history. These search terms may influence the suggestions that Google provides you in future searches. You can delete your search history or search suggestions at any time, by accessing your Google Account settings.

Will the plugin slow my computer down?

The software won’t interfere with the day-to-day operation, nor does it gather any personal information about you. It is restricted in what it collects and is designed to comply with ethics protocols for academic research.

How do I give consent to participate?

By installing and activating the plugin on your computer provide consent to participate in this research project.

What about privacy and confidentiality?

Your personal data and personal searches will not be accessed. Instead, our plugin uses random search terms in the background to see what results you would get if you were searching those terms yourself. Private information from you will not be accessed or stored.
How long does the project run?

The browser plugin will run until June 2022. You will not need to deactivate it manually however you can do so at any time if you no longer wish to participate in the project. Simply go to the Extensions / Add-ons menu in your browser and deactivate or uninstall the add-on.

Who gets access to the data?

Only ADM+S researchers will have access to the data. Please see the Participant Information for further details.

How much data do we collect?

Assuming a web page downloads approximately 860KB (as we’ve found in our own tests), and every search process visits 120 individual pages, the total amount of downloaded data on each search process is roughly 103.2MB. Assuming your computer is switched on the entire day, the maximum amount of data that can be downloaded with the plugin within a single day is 516MB.

What will happen to the results?

Results will be published during and after the end of the project. It will not be possible to extract any personally identifiable data from the results.

What if I have a concern or complaint regards the conduct of the research project?

ADM+S is committed to research integrity and the ethical conduct of research projects. If you wish to discuss the study with someone not directly involved, particularly in relation to matters concerning policies, information or complaints about the conduct of the study or your rights as a participant, you may contact the QUT Research Ethics Advisory Team on 07 3138 5123 or email

Will the plugin code by publicly available?

Yes, the plugin code is available here at GitHub.

What is search personalisation?

Search personalisation is when web search results are tailored specifically to an individual’s interests by incorporating information about the individual beyond the specific term provided. The search engine builds a profile of what it thinks it knows about you. There is not much information on how exactly Google personalises search results, however it is believed to be based on user language, location, and search history.

How do I uninstall the plugin?

You can follow these guides to uninstall the plugin for Chrome, Firefox or Edge