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The Black Hole

BY DAVID KENT | October 18 2011

In a break from normal lab routine, I’ll be dabbling in the black arts of science policy this November and running a session at the 3rd annual Canadian Science Policy Conference.  The conference runs from Nov 16th-18th and features an excellent lineup of speakers that should result in a fantastic push forward for science policy […]

BY BETH | October 11 2011

I’m full of Thanksgiving dinner, so today’s posting is going to be a quick one! A friend of mine recently passed along this paper to me, as she thought it might be a useful tool in teaching research methods/statistics: Graphs for Dummies: The Troubled Geometry of Tim Hudak’s “changebook” by Jim Stanford. This paper from the […]

BY DAVID KENT | October 04 2011

This summer featured our second summer series.  Last year’s “So you want to be a…” was followed up this year by “Notches in the STIC” which navigated through the key points of the Science and Technology Innovation Council’s recent report on Canadian Science.  This autumn should prove to be very busy, we’ll do our best […]

BY DAVID KENT | October 02 2011

I was forwarded two articles last month (thanks Mike O!) from the world of Australian science policy.  In these articles, the debate centred on whether or not academics should be involved in making public policy.   The article that started the ball rolling was by Peter Shergold, Australia’s most senior public servant from 2003-08, who maligned the fact that […]

BY BETH | September 17 2011

An excellent article appeared in University Affairs last week on a couple of programs in Canadian universities that try to address Professional Development for graduate students. In my current career as an evaluator in health care, professional development is an ongoing part of my job. In the performance planning process used by my employer, I don’t […]

BY DAVID KENT | September 12 2011

At the end of August, an article popped out from Nature News that sent many PhDs and postdocs into a tailspin.  After asking 11 labs with a reputation for “working hard” and being allowed to visit just one of them, Heidi Ledford, profiled what she calls a 24/7 lab, that of high profile neurosurgeon Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa. […]

BY DAVID KENT | September 06 2011

The Government of Canada has released details of its 2011 Recruitment of Policy Leaders program.   We’ve written before about becoming a public servant which contains information about this program and others in the Canadian Public Service.  If you are aware of other public service jobs for those with post secondary recruitment, please feel free to share […]

BY DAVID KENT | September 02 2011

Quick Hit: The Lane Anderson Award for the best science writing in Canada has announced its finalists and a decision is expected on September 14, 2011.  Until then, consider browsing through the finalists for a glimpse at great Canadian science writing. Council of Canadian Academies:  Another Progress(?) Update In previous entries  I speculated on the […]

BY BETH | August 15 2011

Two recent news stories: 1. Ottawa silences scientist over West Coast salmon study “Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News. The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the […]

BY DAVID KENT | August 11 2011

With the goal of assessing the state of science and technology in Canada, it seems quite reasonable that the STIC report has identified the development of new knowledge as a key metric for assessing Canada’s relative and absolute performance.  The difficulty with such a task though is understanding what is meant by knowledge development – […]

BY DAVID KENT | July 27 2011

Many reports have been written over the past 30 years about Canada and its R&D spending, and they clamour one after the other about Canada’s relative lack of investment into R&D.  We’ve been through periods of deep cutbacks and periods of very strong growth, yet one thing remains remarkably consistent – Canada underspends on R&D […]

BY BETH | July 25 2011

In his last posting, Dave mentioned that statistic on Canada’s direct vs. indirect funding really jumped out of the STIC report. Another stat that really jumps out is something known as “Business expenditure on R&D (BERD) intensity.” BERD intensity is “the ratio of business R&D to a measure of output” – for example, business expenditures […]

BY DAVID KENT | July 16 2011

One of the most obvious statistics that jumps out of the Science Technology and Innovation Council’s report is the method by which the Government of Canada elects to fund research and development. Funding was broken apart into two categories: direct funding (grants, loans and procurement) and indirect funding (tax credits and incentives) and the analysis was pretty […]

BY BETH | July 14 2011

A quick break from our summer series on the STIC report to bring you some news about rules around paying trainee stipends from CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC grants. From the CIHR e-newsletter I just received: Tri-agencies harmonizing policies on stipends paid from grants The three federal granting agencies — CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC — are […]

BY BETH | July 12 2011

In this first installment of our summer series on the Science, Technology and Innovation Council’s 2010 State of the Nation report, I’m going to take a look at some of the data on who’s getting an education in science and engineering in Canada these days. The report – at least the section I’m talking about […]

BY DAVID KENT | July 07 2011

Over the last few weeks, Beth and I have been trying to identify a good topic for a summer series that our readers might enjoy.  Just in time, offering the glue to hold our scattered ideas together, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council released its 2010 State of the Nation report. The basics of the […]

BY DAVID KENT | July 03 2011

After a harrowing Stanley Cup playoff run that disappointed both of us Canucks fans in its final moments, Beth and I have reclaimed our free hours and will be moving full steam ahead with new content for the Black Hole.  Due to the positive feedback we received on last year’s summer series of posts entitled: […]

BY DAVID KENT | June 30 2011

Lucie Low, newly elected Vice Chair, Finance of CAPS and a current non-Canadian postdoctoral researcher at McGill has just published in Nature a scathing critique of Canada’s system which promised her more than it delivered, and further suggesting that …Canada will lose some of its brightest minds This was of course inspired by the continuous […]

BY BETH | June 08 2011

While reading Dave’s last blog posting, I was struck by the discussion in the “How do we identify “good scientists”?” section, because it resonated with something that I’ve been reading for work.  From Dave’s posting: Lawrence argues that instead of giving scientists grants on the basis of what they plan to do they should instead […]

BY DAVID KENT | May 22 2011

In a February 2011 interview with Lab Times, Cambridge scientist Peter Lawrence ((thanks to Dean G for forwarding these articles and follow-up discussions)) reflects on his own career and complains that “the heart of research is sick” as he charts the changes in the way in which science is pursued.  Briefly, he cites impact factors […]