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5. Research


Data confirms that social sciences and humanities are underfunded through the granting councils. While 40% of full-time university-based researchers teach in those disciplines, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) only received 13% of federal council funds in 2017. And although the number of female university researchers awarded a Canada Research Chair has increased, equity has not been achieved. In 2018, two out of every five Tier 2 chair and just one in five Tier 1 chairs where held by a woman.


5.1 Federal Granting Council Awards by Province, 2016-2017

SSHRC continues to be seriously underfunded when compared to the other granting councils, NSERC and CIHR. While 40.4% of full-time Canadian university teachers teach in the Humanities, Education and Social Science disciplines, SSHRC only received 13.3% of federal granting council funds in 2017.

5.2 Canada Foundation for Innovation Awards by Province, 2016-2017

This table shows the distribution of CFI Awards by province.

5.3 Total Research and Development Expenditures by Sector

This table shows expenditures on research and development by sector from 2000 to 2017. Government expenditures have shown a steady decline from 10.3% in 2000 to 7.2% in 2017. Business expenditures have remained relatively constant over the 17-year period. Universities and colleges have made the greatest increases in expenditures on research and development, from 25.7% in 2000 to 51.2% in 2017.

5.4 University Research Income

In 2016, the top 50 Canadian universities, ranked by their sponsored research income, received more than $6.9 billion in income. This was an increase of 2.2% from 2015.

5.5 Funding for Research in Universities by Source and Province, 2016-2017 ($000)

In 2016-2017, Canadian universities received more than $7.4 billion in Sponsored Research revenue. This represents an increase of 10% from the previous year.

5.6 Funding for Research in Community Colleges by Source & Province, 2015-2016 ($000)

In 2015-2016, Canadian community colleges received $76.9 million in research revenue. This represents an increase of 9% from 2014-2015.

5.7 Federal Sponsored Research Expenditures by Province as a Share of Gross Domestic Product, 2016-2017 ($000)

In 2016-2017, the federal government of Canada invested 0.16% of its GDP in sponsored research, a decline in spending of 54% from 2012-2013.

5.8 Federal Sponsored Research Expenditures (millions $ 2015)

Granting Council funding for university-based research has increased by a modest 6.6% from 2007-08 to 2018-2019 when adjusted for inflation. This increase represents an annual average rate of just 0.6% per year over a twelve-year period.

5.9 Research Library Expenditures, 2015-2016

Canadian research libraries spent more than $827 million in 2015-2016, an increase of 12.8% from 2014-2015. Salary expenditures as a % of all expenditures remained constant.

5.10 Changes in North American Research Library Spending, 1996-1997 to 2015-2016

This table shows the universities that had the largest and smallest increase in library expenditures between 1996-1997 and 2015-2016.

5.11 Research Library Acquisitions 2007-2017 ($000)

In 2017, research libraries in Canada spent more than $352 million on library acquisitions. Between 2007 and 2017, spending on library acquisitions decreased by 7.8%.

5.12 Research Library Holdings in Canada and the United States, 2015-2016

This table ranks North American research libraries based on their total library expenditures.

5.13 Success Rate for SSHRC Research Grants by Sex

The success rates for SSHRC’s Insight Grant (Standard Research Grant prior to 2012-2013) have substantively increased from a low of 22.3% for female researchers and 20.2% for male researchers in 2013-2014 to 46.7% and 47.9% respectively in 2018-2019. However, the average grant awarded decreased significantly by 33% from $207,444 (adjusted for inflation) in 2013-2014 to $131,839 in 2018-2019. The percentage of applications deemed fundable was 64.6% in 2018-2019 while the percentage receiving funding was 47.3% with available funds.

5.14 Success Rate for NSERC Discovery Grants by Sex*

Success rates for NSERC Discovery Grants have declined from about 80% in the early 2000s to 66% in recent years. The success rate gap between male and female applicants has narrowed over the past two decades to within one percent in 2019-2020. By career stage, the success rate for female assistant professors was 60% and 61% % for male assistant professors in the 2019-2020 competition. Female associate professors had a success rate of 68% compared to 63% for male associate professors, while 76% of female full professors were successful compared to 76% of male full professors.

5.15 Success Rate for CIHR Research Grants

Success rates for CIHR’s Open Operating Grants plummeted from 36% in 2001-2002 to just 13% in 2015-2016. The range for CIHR’s new Project grants and Foundation grants fall within a 12% - 15% range. There also remains a huge discrepancy in the success rates for male and female health researchers. Male researchers were about three times more successful than female researchers in receiving an Open Operating Grant between 2001 and 2011. The success rate for female researchers for the prestigious Foundation grant was just 28% in 2017-2018 compared to 72% for male researchers. The male-female success rate ratio for the Project grant improved modestly from 65-35 in 2017-2018 to 60-40 in 2018-2019.

5.16 Canada Research Chairs Equity Gap by Federal Designated Group and Institution, 2015-2017

This table shows the gap in target and actual CRCs by the four federal designated groups (women, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities).

5.17 Distribution of Allocated Canada Research Chairs by Tier and Gender

The number of female university teachers awarded a Canada Research Chair has increased slowly over the past decade. In 2018, 21.3% of Tier 1 chairs were held by women, up 10.1% since 2002. 38.7% of Tier 2 chairs were held by women compared to 20.4% in 2002.

5.18 Recruitment of Canada Research Chairs from Within and Outside Canada, 2018

As of December 2018, 72% of Canada Research Chairs were recruited from within Canada and 8% of chair recipients were Canadians who were recruited from outside Canada.

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