Blog

Welcome to the blog for the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Posts on this site are the opinion of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Federation, its staff or its board of directors. Entries are posted in the language of the author.

Members of the university research community are invited to make guest blog submissions on issues relating to the wellbeing of the humanities and social sciences research and learning enterprise in Canada. Click here to read the Federations’ blog policy. Please send your submission to communications@ideas-idees.ca.

What is science worth for us?

Jack Spaapen, senior policy advisor, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Since the 1990s, policy makers progressively became interested in assessing scientific research not only on its merits for the scientific community, but also for society at large. However, we still do not have a widely accepted, systematic way to assess scientific impact. So why is it so difficult to assess impact of research?

The main reason is that there are so many different kinds of impact, depending on the societal context. Clearly, this goes for researchers working in, say, medical fields compared to those working in agriculture or ICT. But it goes a fortiori for researchers working in the broad array of humanities and social science (HSS) fields. Researchers who work in language departments and want to have an impact on the language curriculum of high schools have to deal with legal and governmental departments, with school boards, with student...

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The CIMVHR Approach to Assessing Impact

By Stéphanie Bélanger, CD, PhD, and Heidi Cramm, PhD, Co-scientific director (interim), Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, with thanks for input from the entire CIMVHR team.

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Heath Research (CIMVHR) was created in 2010 with a mission to enhance the lives of Canadian military personnel, Veterans and their families by harnessing the national capacity for research. Being the only country that was a part of NATO that didn’t have an organization focused on this unique population drove Queen’s University and the Royal Military Collage of Canada to take the lead in creating such an institute. Now 42 Canadian universities strong, CIMVHR is the hub for researchers working together in addressing the health research requirements for our military personnel, Veterans and their families.

As an institute that grew from two universities to 42 in a span of seven years, our methods for assessing...

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Salons: Perspectives on society through scholarly journals

In this era of the 24-hour news cycle, alternative facts and the proliferation of hard-to-verify sources, the online magazine Salons reminds us that research in the humanities and social sciences plays a key role in helping us analyze and understand society.

Salons invites the public to reflect on various societal issues as we read and review various articles published over the years in scholarly journals. This is a way for the magazine to showcase the abundance and importance of reputable and rigorously developed research. It also demonstrates the value of easy access to this information, as the articles and other resources featured in Salons are freely available to all.

Instead of offering frenetic...

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De l’impuissance à l’autonomie : évolution culturelle et enjeux identitaires des minorités canadiennes-françaises

Laurent Poliquin, membre du Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures de l’Université de Winnipeg et du Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française (CRCCF) de l’Université d’Ottawa.

À l’origine, c’est la littérature pour la jeunesse qui a motivé la recherche qui a mené à De l’impuissance à l’autonomie : évolution culturelle et enjeux identitaires des minorités canadiennes-françaises. Alors à l’emploi des Éditions des Plaines, mon travail d’éditeur me permettait de côtoyer des auteurs et des enseignants avides d’écrire et de lire des textes issus de la francophonie de l’Ouest canadien. J’ai ainsi pu contribuer à faire connaître des auteurs comme...

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On the Impacts of Teaching

Nancy Chick, Academic Director of the Taylor Institute, University Chair in Teaching and Learning and Teaching Professor at the University of Calgary

A key contribution of the Federation’s Approaches to Assessing Impacts in the Humanities and Social Sciences report is its acknowledgement that “Academic work has impacts beyond the initial actions or outputs of the researcher, including effects from teaching” (p. 13). Indeed, the professor of folklore studies sketched in one of the report’s case studies identifies “to strengthen and open the minds of students” as one of two goals for his scholarship (p. 12). His aim is probably familiar to many of us in the humanities and social sciences. He wants to contribute to a wider body of knowledge (his first goal), but on a more human level, the knowledge he wants to...

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