Science policy

Science policy
Impact assessment stories: decisions, decisions
March 21, 2018
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It appears that the research & innovation policy community is not the only one struggling with demonstrations of societal benefit. The federal Liberal government recently unveiled two online initiatives to increase government transparency, sharing information about government activities and outcomes. The challenges that these two platforms face amply demonstrate the difficulty of impact assessment. Those challenges are the same ones that face the science policy community, and this post explains how the shortcomings of these online platforms might help to elucidate some potential solutions.
Science policy
Budget 2018: The Evidence Budget
March 8, 2018
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In our post last week on the 2018–19 Canadian federal budget, we looked at how the new spending on fundamental research addresses the calls for support from the Naylor report. But there were many more science stories in the budget as well. Beyond the dollar figures, there are important—if tacit—signals in the budget document about another key item from the science file in Canada: using evidence to build policy. Today’s post attempts to decipher those tacit signals.
Science policy
Budget 2018: the fundamental question of research funding
February 28, 2018
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Science has been quite prominent on the Canadian political radar in recent years, and even became a regular talking point during the last federal election in 2015. During that campaign, the current Liberal government made four headline promises, and with the release yesterday of the 2018–19 federal budget, one of the key puzzle pieces fell into place: increased funding for fundamental research. In today’s post, we’ll assess the budget’s meaning for science in Canada.
Science policy
Science advice in Canada: reborn again?
February 7, 2018
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Science advice is apparently having a “moment” right now in Canada. Quebec has had a chief scientist since 2011, but both the federal government and the Ontario provincial government named chief science advisors in the second half of 2017. For the first time, at the end of January 2018, the three chief scientists appeared publicly together, on a panel organized by the Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP) at the University of Ottawa. This attracted no small number of science policy nerds. While the event was billed as a new renaissance for science advice, that does raise the question of when exactly its prior incarnations occurred. In today’s post, we’ll present a summary of the discussions, along with some critical reflections.
Bibliometrics Data mining Open access Science policy
2017: the best of ScienceMetrics.org
January 17, 2018
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Over the past year, the ScienceMetrics.org blog has grown considerably. We really appreciate our growing group of readers and all the interesting discussions that the blog has sparked. In today’s post, we’ll take a quick look back at 2017, and give you a year-in-review from our side of the “Publish” button.
Bibliometrics Science policy
Nobel laureates and the economic impact of research: a case study
December 15, 2017
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In the course of another project, I recently ran some data on the publications of 37 laureates of the Nobel prizes in Medicine, Physics and Chemistry. The results raised eyebrows in the office: they showed that those laureates, recognized for the tremendous contribution their discoveries have made to humanity, have over the course of their careers produced knowledge that has been taken up in innovation—as measured by patent citations—more widely than the work of the average US or world scientist. While this was a “quick and dirty” case study, the results exemplify the great potential of the prizewinners’ work for producing economic returns to society.
Science policy
Canadian Science: mandate update from Minister Duncan
November 29, 2017
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Kirsty Duncan (Canadian federal Minister of Science) gave a keynote address at the 9th annual Canadian Science Policy Conference in early November, during which she outlined the main priorities of her role and what she’s accomplished since being named two years ago. In our ongoing coverage of the keynote speeches from CSPC, this post will summarize her talk and highlight some critical questions.
Science policy
The new face of the science–policy interface
November 21, 2017
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The new Chief Science Advisor position is the top job at the science–policy interface in Canada. While attending the 9th Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa earlier this month, the other conference-goers and I were lucky to get a glimpse of how Dr. Mona Nemer—newly named to the job—understands evidence-based decision-making. In this week’s post, I’ll give a summary of her remarks at the CSPC and distill the main views on evidence-based decision-making that they seem to reflect.
Science policy
Is non-science non-sense?
November 15, 2017
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At the beginning of November, I attended the Canadian Science Policy Conference, where one of the headline guest speakers was the new Governor General: former astronaut and currently Right Honourable Julie Payette. The Canadian science and science policy communities had an expectedly positive response to the appointment of such a scientifically minded person to this emblematic role. Her Excellency’s speech really played to the home-town crowd, too, emphasizing that science is increasingly embraced in policymaking here in Canada, and calling for science to now be increasingly embraced in society at large as well, even to the point that science would become a matter of cocktail conversation. There was a lot of controversy, though, about how Payette described the beliefs of those who have not yet been converted to our brand of discipleship, those beliefs that do not pass scientific muster. In today’s post, I’ll point out what I see as an underlying tension in her position and what a resolution might require.
Bibliometrics Science policy
Metrics: state of the alt
November 8, 2017
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Discussions of research having impact were for a long time limited to citation tracking, to estimate how much one piece of work influences subsequent explorations. However, with calls for research to have impact on the broader society—breaking out of the closed circle of research feeding yet more research—there’s a lot of interest in seeing how we might trace that impact pathway as it breaks through the membrane insulating the world of research. Altmetrics has held the promise of tracking just such traces. At STI 2017, several leading researchers on the topic gave valuable updates on the state of the art, and their estimation is that we should be seriously cooling it with all the hype. This post sums up the points that stuck out to me from their various presentations, and tries to outline my takeaway of what we should be learning from altmetrics.