Research and Programs

Social science database in peril

December 11, 1978 - SocScan funding critical

Executive Director Designate John Trent petitions the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to fund the SocScan project. The Social Science Federation of Canada (SSFC) uses $100,000 to fund SocScan, but needs further support to sustain the project. If the board cannot allocate funds, they will be forced to terminate the project. The SSFC believes they have sufficiently gotten “SocScan off the ground” and with the appropriate resources it will pay for itself as an information service for the social science community. In February 1979, SSHRC refuses to further fund SocScan. The program survives in July 1980 when Ed Hannis of Western takes control of the database. 

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Issues in scholarly publishing

1976 - Both councils have discussions surrounding issues in scholarly publishing and the ASPP

Throughout its history, the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) faces several critical issues. As a joint granting body for scholarly publications, the ASPP reacts in many ways to changes in the Humanities Research Council of Canada and Social Science Research Council of Canada. For instance, translating books between French and English is a necessary focal point for the councils. Funding is a continuing issue for the ASPP. By the 1980s, the federations lobby to protect their funding, specifically for the ASPP which is an important service for the academic community. In 1990, the program is further troubled by the federal reduction to the Postal Subsidy Program which aids in distribution costs. In 1991, when the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) cut the prospective ASPP budget, the federations petition...

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Researching mother tongue literacy

November 8, 1976 - HRCC research into mother tongue literacy

From the early 1960s, the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) expresses interest in students’ ‘mother tongue’ in Canadian universities. Some university academics and administration express dissatisfaction with “the standard of mother tongue attainment among English and French-speaking undergraduates.” In 1973, the HRCC establishes the Committee on the Teaching of the Mother Tongue. A June 1976 letter expresses concern that the work of the committee is already being pursued by universities and other organizations elsewhere in Canada. The executive concludes in November 1976 that since individual universities are concerned about teaching the mother tongue and the HRCC has insufficient resources to continue the project, they will disband the committee.


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Questioning public land use

1973 - SSRCC Human Environment Committee organizes symposium on public land use

The Human Environment Committee remains an integral part of the Social Science Research Council of Canada for years. The committee coincides with increasing awareness in North America of global environmental issues that widely impact humans. In 1973, the committee organizes a symposium putting Canadian public land use in perspective. They meet several times to discuss issues with land use and Aboriginal peoples. An overarching message is the necessity for settler populations to “own-up” to treatment of First Nations groups.

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Expanding the ASPP

1972 – Expanding the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program

Up this point, the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) of each research council has been fairly small. The majority of applications have come from large university presses and many scholars were not aware of the programs. This means that between 1942 and 1971, only 423 books have been published with aid from either council, which is not a huge number. Starting in 1970, however, a Publications Officer and two secretaries are hired specifically to administer the program, allowing it to expand. In 1972, the publications committees of both the Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Social Science Research Council of Canada hold their first joint meeting to better coordinate the program between them. They adopt new general guidelines for publishing, which help increase the percentage of Canadian authors and publishers aided by the program. Over the next 10...

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A database for Canadian social scientists

1972 - SSRCC considers SocScan

Like the Data Clearing House, SocScan is a database for social science data. However, SocScan organizes and centralizes data about Canadian social scientists and their research. The database catalogues this information to be used by other social scientists for networking and to avoid duplicating research. To date, the Social Science Research Council of Canada mails surveys to researchers to collect data on social scientists and their research. By 1978, SocScan is often considered together with the Data Clearing House.

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Co-operating with Statistics Canada

1971 - SSRCC begins close relationship with Statistics Canada

The Social Science Research Council of Canada’s (SSRCC) Statistics Committee exploits the opportunity to use census data from the newly formed Statistics Canada in 1971. The SSRCC wants census data available for study by social scientists in Canada. Although Statistics Canada cannot release census data before 90 years from the census date, the SSRCC advocates for public use of census data. In 1979, Statistics Canada releases Public Use Tapes in light of increased demand to view census data.

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Centralizing Canadian data

1971 - Canada Council considers data clearing house for the social sciences

By the 1970s, the Social Science Research Council of Canada (SSRCC) recognizes the need to establish a system to deal with large amounts of social science data. The Data Clearing House employs computers to handle “machine readable data.” A 1971 SSRCC Data Clearing House Feasibility Study raises issues about the nature of data and translation. The study influences discussions on bilingualism in the councils. How will they translate the data into French? The study charges the council for always translating into French rather than into English. Many questions also arise about representing data in computers. For instance, it is not clear what “data” means. To that point, the council has only mailed and received surveys. 

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Publishing historical statistics of Canada

1965 - Publication of Historical Statistics of Canada

In 1959, the Canadian Political Science Association proposes the creation of a reference book on Canadian historical statistics for use by students and scholars. They approach the Social Science Research Council of Canada with the idea and the council decides to cosponsor the project. M.C. Urquhart and K.A.H. Buckley are the editors, overseeing a group of researchers who create tables of documents on everything from education to natural resources. The book is published on June 9, 1965. After several revisions, it remains a valuable resource for Canadian statistics.

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Investigating exchanges with Australia

1962 - SSRCC and HRCC establish Canadian-Australian Academic Exchange Committee

The Australian Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is informally established in 1954. From the beginning, the Humanities Research Council of Canada and AHRC communicate closely, surveying Australian universities, and collaborating in research. The Canadian and Australian councils express interest in visiting academic institutions in the Commonwealth. In 1962, both councils establish the Canadian-Australian Academic Exchange Committee for researchers to visit universities in both countries. The joint committee provides Canadian academics grants to visit Australia and New Zealand on scholarly exchange. 

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