What's More Important In Science, Input Quantity Or Output Quality?
    By Hank Campbell | May 21st 2013 10:24 AM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    If spending is the metric, Canadian research is in trouble.

    Of course, if spending is the metric, American Democrats hate science a lot more than American Republicans do, but you'd have a hard time getting science media to acknowledge that. Still, spending is at least one metric.

    Canada's Science, Technology and Innovation Council measures Canada’s science and technology 'performance' against that of comparable countries around the world every two years. The latest report found that Canada’s gross domestic expenditures (GERD) on R&D declined from their peak in 2008, pushing Canadian spending from 16th position in 2006 to 17th in 2008 and to 23rd in 2011 (among 41 economies).

    Money talks, when a giant chunk of government researchers are government-funded. The Canadian government would like to have larger private sector involvement in science research but the culture war is too far gone for that. Corporations are evil and government-controlled research is pure and noble and for the public good and that lack of uptake by the private sector is why Canada's GERD is now behind other countries. Research is regarded as a public works program with no applied requirement - and many scientists want it to stay that way. 

    Paul Wells at McLean's lays all the 'blame' for why Canada does not outspend the US on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Yes, another left-wing journalist who believes funding quantity is the only barometer for anything - and it's good public relations, he has written a whole book criticizing Harper. Go ahead, picture American media of 2006 and then guess the political proclivities of Wells and whether Harper is left or right - for Canada, anyway.

    The difference between Harper and former President George W. Bush is that Bush doubled funding for the NIH and increased the budget for NASA 15% after declines in the Clinton years and still got called anti-science. Bush should have become PM in Canada, since journalists only care about money there.

    Yet if spending is not your only metric, Canada does quite well.

    “With a share of only 0.5 percent of global population, Canada accounted for 4.4 percent of the world’s natural sciences and engineering publications in 2010. This positions Canada eighth after countries with significantly larger populations: the U.S., China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, France and Italy.”

    Media progressives have a ready answer for that - any good stuff is a legacy from before the evil  conservative took power, while any bad stuff is his fault. They share that in common with America as well.

    Stephen Harper and the knowledge economy: perfect strangers by Paul Wells, McLean's

    H/T Dr. Jim Woodgett, Senior Researcher at M. Sinai Hospital


    Canada is dropping like a lead balloon as far as science goes. but, Canada is the reigning champ when it comes to having morons as your political leaders !

    I know how you vote. But, as shown, Canadian science is not dropping, funding is just slowing down compared to when someone who spent a lot more was in power. The government determined the private sector should do more and the private sector does not agree - they are used to taxpayers funding it and are betting on the fact that a left-wing guy will be next and fund everything for them.  It's a cultural stand-off but Canadian science still does quite well.  Anyone who says they will 'lose leadership' if they don't spend more than their neighbors is selling something.
    Hank, the Conservative government in Canada is acting rather oddly in converting the National Research Council budget into direct support for the private sector as a means to encourage more commercialization of research (funds were previously focused more on tax rebates/credits for R&D. This basically entails government picking winners - not something most right of centre governments tend to do or want to do.

    I do agree that's a bad policy. In the US we have a liberal who spent $72 billion trying to pick winners and losers on his first term.  Stupidity is not limited to the left or right.