This study, conducted for the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), used bibliometric measures to determine Canada’s position on the world stage in Natural Sciences & Engineering (NSE) research for the period 2009–2013. The purpose of this work was to provide lines of evidence for an expert panel reviewing NSERC’s funding allocation structures for its Discovery Grant program. As these grants are allocated across 12 Evaluation Groups (EGs), defined by NSERC, the data in this study examined Canada’s performance primarily at the EG level, and within the scientific subfields thereof. The study’s key questions addressed the following points:
- Canada’s performance at the EG level, compared to the rest of the world, using individual indicators (i.e., number of publications, growth ratio, specialization index, scientific impact and collaboration index) as well as using a composite performance index
- The evolution over time of Canada’s specialization and impact, relative to the rest of the world, within each EG
- The relative strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s research, at the subfield level within each EG
- Topics that are fast-growing internationally and in which Canada has a research strength
- Topics that are highly interdisciplinary internationally and in which Canada has a research strength
In terms of international comparisons, 27 benchmark nations (including Canada) were identified using criteria stipulated by NSERC, one of which was the availability of reliable and relatively complete information. The study used the Web of Science database (Thomson Reuters). The study concluded that Canada’s NSE research performance, based on a composite index, ranked at or above the median of the 27 selected countries over the study period, with considerable strengths in Evolution & Ecology and Biological Systems & Functions. Canada also had lesser, though notable, strengths in Electrical & Computer Engineering and in Computer Science.
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