The typical description of a professor's role is to 1) contribute to research and scholarship in his or her discipline, 2) to teach, and 3) to contribute to the work of running the university.
The most common way of gauging an individual's contribution to research and scholarship is to review citations of the individual's work in the scholarly literature. This is what the listing here is concerned with.
Google Scholar is an automatic service that surveys the web for citations of papers that appear in a wide variety of scholarly journals, dissertations, and other scholarly writings. The service compiles on demand a listing of all the papers that an individual has contributed to as an author (many academic papers have multiple authors). On the first line below the listing of each publication Google Scholar includes a notation such as "Cited by 99". The number given is the count of the number of other publications that have cited the listed paper. Here's an example. The listing is for a 1971 paper that DT Langendoen coauthored with H Savin. The listing indicates that it has been cited 141 times in other publications.
[CITATION] The projection problem for presuppositions
DT Langendoen, H Savin - Studies in linguistic semantics, 1971 - New York: Holt
Cited by 141 Related articles Import into EndNote More
Most papers in the scholarly literature are never cited anywhere and it often takes some time for the impact of a publication to become apparent. Highly influential works may gain many thousands of citations, though many quite valuable papers never gain more than a few dozen, or even less. And, it sometimes happens that the value of a contribution is not recognized until long after it first appears.
Since citations don't begin to appear until a year or two after a work appears, and often build gradually over time, check the personal pages for linguistics faculty for recent publications and presentations.
The USM linguistics faculty looks on measures like the Google Scholar listings as one useful way to gauge the degree to which our work is having an influence on the development of new knowledge and insight in our discipline.
Note that if you use Google Scholar to look up an individual's work, it is wise to examine the resulting listing carefully. A search for the work of "Jane Smith" quickly reveals that many Jane Smiths have contributed to research in a number of different fields.