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John Harvard's Journal

Research Roster

September-October 2001

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.

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But how does an outsider get a handle on the product of myriad laboratories spread across diverse schools, medical facilities, and interfaculty research programs? Seeking to serve the interests of several lay constituencies, the University's news and public affairs office has created one-stop shopping for the curious with a combined Internet and print channel collectively known as "Research Matters."

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,, 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.