Roger Williams research is focused in two main subjects: the history of book and paper production, and the conservation of books and paper artifacts.
- In book history, his research interests are in the production of book boards, and specifically on the mechanical production of scaleboard (also called scabbard board), thinly sliced wood used primarily in the box-making industry. He also researches the relationship between bookbinders and box-makers, as they used many of the same materials (pulpboard, pasteboard, decorative paper, scaleboard, wheat paste, animal glue).
- In book conservation, he has researched methods for conserving scaleboard and how best to replace losses. These methods involve the use of a bulked epoxy putty applied in conjunction with a reversible barrier layer of gelatin.
- In paper conservation, he has researched methods for applying low-opacity mends on translucent substrates (tracing paper, glassine, transparent paper). This involves optically cleared repair tissues, in which the coating performs as both a reactivated adhesive and a clearing agent, minimizing the scattering of light and encouraging light transmission.
Mr. Williams has also helped create an open-design book conservation tool (the Adaptable Conservation Book Support) to hold books open at any degree during treatment.