Measuring Environment Canada's Research and Development Performance (2014): chapter 9


Principle: Collaboration

Collaboration - Collaborate with colleagues in the Department and across federal government, and with domestic and international partners

Why we measure

Science is a collaborative enterprise, and Environment Canada's (EC) science is strengthened by the Department’s collaborations with domestic and international partners. Examining the Department’s partnerships allows EC to better position itself within the broader environmental research landscape.

How we measure

The extent of EC’s scientific collaborations was measured by analysing information on rates of publication co-authorship and home institutions of those co-authors. The effect of collaborations was measured by comparing the scientific impact of collaborative and non-collaborative publications.

Results

Environment Canada is highly collaborative, co-authoring nearly 90% of its publications in 2013.

Figure 18 shows the share of EC publications that are co-authored with external partners, both national and international. The overall trend is an increase in collaboration over time. National collaboration has remained relatively steady, while international collaboration has increased more sharply. This sustained high level of collaboration with top national and international institutions helps EC stay at the leading edge of scientific inquiry.

Figure 18: Collaboration with national and international partners, 2003-2013

Collaboration with national and international partners, 2003-2013 (See long description below)
Description of Figure 18

Figure 18 shows the share of EC publications that are co-authored with external partners, both national and international. The overall trend is an increase in collaboration over time. National collaboration has remained relatively steady, while international collaboration has increased more sharply. This sustained high level of collaboration with top national and international institutions helps EC stay at the leading edge of scientific inquiry.

Source: Scopus data compiled by Science-Metrix  for 2003-2007 (2009),  and EC for 2008-2013 (2014)

Note: Some papers are published with both national and international partners making the sum of international and national collaborations greater than the total number of collaborations.

Collaboration greatly increases the scientific impact of Environment Canada’s research and development (R&D) (as measured by average relative citation [ARC]).

Compared to EC publications produced without any external collaboration, papers with national co-authors are cited 20% more often, those with international co-authors 80% more often, and those with both national and international co-authors almost twice as often. Similar trends were observed in the 2009 report.

The high scientific impact of papers with international co-authors is well-aligned with the trend of increasing international collaboration (see Figure 18, above).

Figure 19: Scientific impact of collaborative versus non-collaborative papers (ARC), 2008-2013

Scientific impact of collaborative versus non-collaborative papers (ARC), 2008-2013 (See long description below)
Description of Figure 19

Scientific impact of collaborative versus non-collaborative papers (ARC), 2008-2013. Compared to EC publications produced without any external collaboration, papers with national co-authors are cited 20% more often, those with international co-authors 80% more often, and those with both national and international co-authors almost twice as often. Similar trends were observed in the 2009 report.

Source: Observatoire des sciences et des technologies, Web of Science (2014)

Environment Canada’s top national collaborators have changed slightly over time, but Canadian universities remain the Department’s strongest partners. At the same time, top international collaborators have stayed relatively unchanged, with American governmental institutions remaining the Department’s strongest partners.

As shown in the figure below, collaboration with the University of Alberta has increased significantly in recent years; it is now one of EC's top five national collaborators. The other four top national collaborators have remained relatively stable. Fisheries and Oceans Canada remains the top collaborating federal department. Environmental Chemistry and Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics are the main scientific fields for national collaboration.

Figure 20: EC's top national collaborators, 2003-2013
Institution  Rank in 2008-2013 Change in rank since 2003-2007 Main scientific field 2008-2013
University of Toronto   1 0 Atmospheric Science
University of Saskatchewan 2 +1 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Fisheries and Oceans Canada   3 +1 Environmental Chemistry
University of Alberta 4 +9 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
University of Waterloo 5 0 Environmental Chemistry

Source: Scopus data compiled by Science-Metrix for 2003-2007 (2009), and EC for 2008-2013 (2014)

The number of collaborations per year with EC’s top national collaborators is generally higher now than in the past. For example, the University of Toronto remains EC’s top national collaborator, but its present rate of collaboration (measured by number of co-authored publications) has increased by about 15 papers per year compared to its past rate.

Internationally, EC's scientists collaborate most with partners in the United States. Five years ago, EC’s top collaborating institutions were based in the United States (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United States Geological Survey), France (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and Denmark (National Environmental Research Institute). Today, two different American institutions (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/National Center for Atmospheric Research and University of Colorado) have entered the top five. Atmospheric Science is the main field for international collaboration.

Figure 21: EC's top international collaborators, 2003-2013
Institution Rank in 2008-2013 Change in rank since 2003-2007 Main scientific field 2008-2013
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States of America [USA]) 1 0 Atmospheric Science
CNRS - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France) 2 +1 Atmospheric Science
UCAR/NCAR - University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and National Center for Atmospheric Research (USA) Footnote1 3 +5 Atmospheric Science
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA) 4 -2 Atmospheric Science
University of Colorado (USA) 5 +1 Atmospheric Science

Source: Scopus data compiled by Science-Metrix  for 2003-2007 (2009),  and EC for 2008-2013 (2014)

As above, EC's rate of collaboration with these top institutions has increased over time. For example, NOAA remains EC’s top international collaborator, but its rate of collaboration (measured by number of co-authored publications) has increased by about 10 papers per year.

Collaboration - Share information and expertise across disciplines, sectors, and jurisdictions

Why we measure

By sharing resources such as facilities, funding, information and expertise, EC is a highly active member of the scientific community, greatly improving the quality of its science.

How we measure

In addition to its institutional partnerships, the Department’s collaboration can be measured through partnerships with different sectors, different jurisdictions, and Indigenous communities.

Results

While Environment Canada collaborates with a diversity of sectors, the academic sector remains the Department’s strongest national partner.

The figure below shows national collaboration by sector for 2008-2013. The 2008-2013 proportions are similar to the 2003-2007 proportions presented in the 2009 report: co-authorship with universities and the federal government has increased, co-authorship with provincial governments has remained stable, and co-authorship with the private sector, health sector and other sectors has decreased.

This strong collaboration with the national academic sector is consistent with Figure 20 above, showing the top five national collaborators (past and present).

Figure 22: National collaboration by sector, 2008-2013

National collaboration by sector, 2008-2013 (See long description below)
Description of Figure 22

The figure below shows national collaboration by sector for 2008-2013. The 2008-2013 proportions are similar to the 2003-2007 proportions presented in the 2009 report: co-authorship with universities and the federal government has increased, co-authorship with provincial governments has remained stable, and co-authorship with the private sector, health sector and other sectors has decreased.

Source: Scopus data compiled by EC (2014)

Environment Canada collaborates with provincial and territorial governments to perform R&D.

Figure 23 shows the number of co-authors associated with a provincial or territorial government who collaborated on at least one publication with EC between 2008 and 2013. As the environment is a cross-jurisdictional responsibility, it is important for all levels of government to be involved in R&D. In the time period examined, EC collaborated with every Canadian province and territory. EC collaborated most frequently with Ontario, followed by Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

Figure 23: Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, 2008-2013

Collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, 2008-2013 (See long description below)
Description of Figure 23

Figure 23 shows the number of co-authors associated with a provincial or territorial government who collaborated on at least one publication with EC between 2008 and 2013. As the environment is a cross-jurisdictional responsibility, it is important for all levels of government to be involved in R&D. In the time period examined, EC collaborated with every Canadian province and territory. EC collaborated most frequently with Ontario, followed by Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

Source: Scopus data compiled by EC (2014)

Environment Canada collaborates with Indigenous communities.

Collaboration between EC scientists and Indigenous communities is important for R&D in environmental science. As EC conducts environmental research in many areas of the country, including on Indigenous lands, the Department has an important responsibility to work closely with Indigenous governments, organizations and communities, considering community viewpoints and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge alongside its scientific research.

One example is the 2012 Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou in Canada. Recognizing the important traditional, cultural, and spiritual role of boreal caribou in the lives of Indigenous people, EC sought considerable involvement from Indigenous communities in the development of the recovery strategy for boreal caribou. Two rounds of engagement were undertaken, with a focus on seeking input and sharing information with Indigenous communities. In addition, EC supported processes to gather Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge. These two components were essential in the development of the Recovery Strategy.

Nationally, EC contacted over 260 Indigenous communities located within and adjacent to the current distribution of boreal caribou during both rounds of engagement, inviting them to participate in the development of the recovery strategy for boreal caribou.

 

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