The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012

In 2010, the Minister of Industry asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assess the state of science and technology in Canada.

The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012 builds upon, updates, and expands upon the CCA’s inaugural report, published in 2006. This current assessment provides a thorough analysis of the scientific disciplines and technological applications where Canada excels in a global context. It also identifies Canada’s S&T strengths, regional specializations, and emerging research areas.

To complete this report, the CCA assembled an 18-member expert panel from Canada and around the world to conduct this in-depth assessment. The Panel undertook an expansive analysis that included a penetrating look at the output and impact of Canadian publications and patents, a survey of over 5,000 top-cited international researchers, a survey of Canadian S&T experts, and an analysis of highly qualified and skilled personnel.  

The Panel was asked to consider the full range of disciplines in which research is conducted, including the humanities, arts, and social sciences. After examining the available evidence, the Panel came to a number of key findings, listed below, and concluded that Canadian S&T is healthy and growing in both output and impact.

Key findings within the report include:

The six research fields in which Canada excels: clinical medicine, historical studies, information and communication technologies (ICT), physics and astronomy, psychology and cognitive sciences, and visual and performing arts.

With less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s population, Canada produces 4.1 per cent of the world’s research papers and nearly 5 per cent of the world’s most frequently cited papers.

In a survey of over 5,000 leading international scientists, Canada’s scientific research enterprise was ranked fourth highest in the world, after the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany.

Canada is part of a network of international science and technology collaboration that includes the most scientifically advanced countries in the world. Canada is also attracting high-quality researchers from abroad, such that over the past decade there has been a net migration of researchers into the country.

Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta are the powerhouses of Canadian S&T, together accounting for 97 per cent of total Canadian output in terms of research papers. These provinces also have the best performance in patent-related measures and the highest per capita numbers of doctoral students, accounting for more than 90 per cent of doctoral graduates in Canada in 2009.

Several fields of specialization were identified in other provinces, such as: agriculture, fisheries, and forestry in Prince Edward Island and Manitoba; historical studies in New Brunswick; biology in Saskatchewan; as well as earth and environmental sciences in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

These are just a few of the many observations that are considered in the Expert Panel’s report.


Dr. Eliot Phillipson (left) and Council President Elizabeth Dowdeswell (right), September 27th, 2012.


What is the current state of science and technology in Canada?

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Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on the State of Science and Technology in Canada was chaired by Dr. Eliot A. Phillipson, Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Toronto and former President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on the State of Science and Technology in Canada page.

Several members of the Expert Panel on the State of Science and Technology in Canada at their second panel meeting in Toronto, ON.


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