Harvard hums with research. In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2000, the University received $429 million in sponsored-research support, principally from the federal government. Even that sum is understated: it excludes hundreds of millions more expended at affiliated hospitals, in dozens of endowment-funded research centers, and in the daily activities of humanists whose scholarship often involves only pad, pencil, and library card.
The tail is an annual publication, Research Matters, that colorfully highlights recent work in six user-friendly, intuitive categories: mind, body, society, earth, space, and technology. The dog is the accompanying website, www.researchmatters.harvard.edu, updated continuously with synopses of new research, links to the underlying information (including the faculty members doing the work), and thoughtful, easy-to-navigate indexes. Launched in June with several hundred stories, it will quickly grow to encompass thousands.
The aim is to make the researchers' dialogue accessible to government policymakers who control funding, politicians who appropriate the money, journalists, alumni, and students who are tapping current research for school papers. This effort to knit together Harvard sources of research information--and to translate the results into appealing English--may be as ambitious as the research itself.