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How are science and technology faring in Canada?

Six years after the last assessment, a new report on the state of science and technology in Canada has recently been released by The Council of Canadian Academies, who undertook this study commissioned by the Canadian Government. For the current report, an expert panel composed of 18 members from Canada and abroad focused on research conducted in the sectors of higher education, government and not-for-profit organisations, using both quantitative and qualitative measures for the assessment.

The main conclusions from the panel provide a positive picture on the robustness and international competitiveness of science and technology in Canada. The report states that “with less than 0.5% of the world’s population, Canada produces 4.1% of the world’s scientific papers and nearly 5% of the world’s most frequently cited papers”. Compared to the period of 1999-2004, between 2005-2010 the proportion of papers produced in Canada increased by 59%. In addition, leading international scientists, who took part in a survey for this assessment, placed Canada in fourth place in the world as a leading country in their scientific field, after the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The panel concluded that the six areas in which Canada excels are: clinical medicine, historical studies, information and communication technologies (ICT), psychology and cognitive sciences, physics and astronomy, and visual and performing arts. Another important finding is that Canada attracts international high-quality researchers. Data from 1997-2007 indicate a positive migration flow of researchers into Canada. Taking a closer look at the geographic distribution of Canada’s science and technology activities, 97% of the outputs in scientific papers are concentrated in the regions of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. These regions also have the best performance in patent-related measures and the highest per capita number of doctoral graduates in the country.

The report also shows that, compared to the last assessment in 2006, significant improvements have taken place in the quality and magnitude of science and technology in the areas of biology, clinical medicine, ICT, physics and astronomy, psychology and cognitive sciences, public health and health services, and visual and performing arts.

The Council of Canadian Academies