Shimon Rura ’03 has a thoughtful post on the value of research at Williams. He concludes:

On the other hand, getting papers published is not really a good measure of research relevance; it is just something possibly related that is easy to measure. This metric is also easy to manipulate by people who build the right connections. Thus I’d say publishing is commonly overrated, but one of the unique strengths of places like Williams is that a professor actively engaged in specialized research can contribute to the learning of many kinds of students, from apprentice to dilettante.

I am not so sure that the publishing process is “easy” to manipulate, but Shimon is certainly correct in his point that value of “research” at Williams should be measured by the direct impact that the research has on Williams students. An article or book that is never read by a Williams student, that generates no funding for research for a Williams student and that is not directly connected to any class taken by a Williams student should count for nothing in the tenure process.

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