October 2014


‘Measuring’ the impact of Social Sciences and Humanities

Simone Tulumello, Post-doc research fellow in Planning and Geography at the ULisboa, Institute of Social Sciences

Ideas can… is the website of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, a non-profit charitable organization with a mandate to (from the website): promote the value of research and learning in the humanities and social sciences; support the dissemination of knowledge to the public and the public policy community; provide a range of services to individual members and member institutions.

The Federation has recently launched an ambitious project that aims at developing metrics for measuring the impacts of Social Sciences and Humanities within and beyond academe....

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SSH News: Hill Times “Campus Research” issue, SSH response to Ottawa shooting, feedback on Impact report


This week, The Hill Times released its “Campus Research” issue, featuring contributions from an array of writers about innovation in the sciences, social sciences, as well as aboriginal education. 

A message from the Director of Policy and Programming of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences outlines the important contribution that scholars and students in the humanities and social sciences have to make to Canada’s ongoing discussion about how best to respond to the St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa attacks of last week....

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The humanities and social sciences play a vital role in our response to the recent attacks in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa

Gauri Sreenivasan, Director of Policy & Programming

After the terrible attacks last week in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, the nation’s capital is slowly but surely returning to regularly scheduled activities. Parliament has re-opened to the public, municipal elections were held yesterday, schools are open, and all citizens in Ottawa are reclaiming the basic freedoms and rights essential to our open and democratic society. The Federation and its staff experienced a precautionary office lock down and tense moments last week as we struggled to understand, alongside so many, what was happening a few blocks away. 

This week, the Federation is pleased to be part of getting Ottawa working again: we are hosting a Big Thinking lecture on Parliament Hill featuring Bartha Knoppers who will speak about the impact of “Big Data on our healthcare system”. We note that across...

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AU Press, the first open access university press in North America

Pamela Holway, senior editor, and Megan Hall, marketing and production coordinator, Athabasca University Press

AU Press was founded in 2007 as a fully open access press and we often pause during Open Access Week to reexamine our mission and reflect on our experience as the first open access university press in North America. Our mandate was one response to a crisis that has been developing in scholarly monograph publishing, a crisis with which we are all familiar. As university libraries, facing their own economic crises, purchase fewer and fewer books, sales of printed titles have been steadily dwindling. University presses that were founded on cost recovery models...

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SSH News: Academics respond to Ottawa attack, Open Access Week, First Nations children

A day after the gun attack in Ottawa, the debate has started over how Canada should respond. Among these are the voices of academics. Wesley Wark, professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, urges Canadians in his Globe and Mail op-ed to be resilient, and ensure that our democratic society does not get “bent out of shape” by recent events. Le Devoir interviewed Criminology professor Maurice Cusson, who reminds us that homicide claims far more...

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Digital open access collection complements print books

Antoine Del Busso, General Director at Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal

“Rather than attempting to predict the future, we should consider the future we would like to see…”

I appreciate this reflection by Marcello Vitali-Rosati, co-founder with Michael Sinatra of the collection “Parcours numériques” (“Digital trails”) launched at Presses de l’Université de Montréal (PUM) last March. It highlights the urgent need to rethink traditional modes of knowledge dissemination. We know that the world of print publishing is in a period of profound self-questioning. Not only is marketing changing radically, but so are reading habits and, as a result, content creation. Can we, without incalculable risk,...

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Parcours numériques : Le futur du livre et l’accès libre (French)

Marcello Vitali-Rosati and Michael E. Sinatra, Université de Montréal 

Avec les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, nous avons créé une collection en accès libre qui s’intitule « Parcours numériques »[1] et dont les trois premières publications sont sorties en 2014. La collection est basée sur l’idée qu’il doit y avoir une complémentarité entre l’édition papier et l’édition numérique, ces deux formes de publication présupposant différentes idées de lecture et deux approches à la réception des contenus.

Le livre papier – et l’on entend ici également le numérique homothétique (epub ou pdf) qui reproduit à l’identique le livre papier sur un support numérique – permet une lecture linéaire. Une thèse...

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Le libre accès en cavale à l’Université d’Ottawa (French)

Lara Mainville, Director, University of Ottawa Press

Cinq ans, ça se fête! Pour marquer les cinq ans de libre accès à l’Université d’Ottawa – « la première université au Canada à adopter un programme complet de mesures favorisant le libre accès » – les Presses et la Bibliothèque de l’Université d’Ottawa ont monté une programmation dynamique à l’occasion de la Semaine internationale du libre accès qui a lieu du 20 au 26 octobre 2014.

Le clou de cette semaine est un événement table ronde suivi d’une consultation publique, qui fait le point sur la genèse, les réalisations depuis...

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Open Access Week: Blog series (Oct. 20-24)

Happy Open Access Week!

To celebrate the 8th annual Open Access Week, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences is launching an Open Access blog series, which will run from October 20-24. Through these blog posts, we hope to add our voice to the international community of scholars, publishers and citizens calling for free and open access to innovative research in all disciplines.

The Federation believes in the ability of the humanities and social sciences to contribute to a free and democratic society, and we have been committed to crafting an open access policy for our Awards for Scholarly...

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Open Access and the ASPP

Jessica Clark, ASPP Coordinator and Matthew McKean, Policy Analyst

Many of our readers will already be familiar with the Federation’s recent initiative to develop an OA policy for its Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP). The ASPP is a competitive funding program that supports the publication and translation of scholarly books on topics in the humanities and social sciences.

Since last fall, the Federation has been looking at all issues related to OA and book publishing. In the spring, after a period of concerted research and informal discussions with experts and stakeholders, we released a...

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Welcoming Gauri Sreenivasan, new Director of Policy and Programs

Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

I am very pleased to introduce Gauri Sreenivasan as our new Director of Policy and Programs. Gauri brings nearly 25 years of policy and programming experience, most recently as the Director of Parliamentary Affairs in the Official Opposition Leader`s Office.  Gauri also worked for 15 years at the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) as a senior analyst and team coordinator. Gauri has a deep understanding of the legislative and policy making process, including the complexities of the interactions between research, policy stakeholders, and decision makers across a wide range of issues-- both domestic and global in scope.  I look forward to calling on her rich expertise...

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SSH News: Canada Research Chairs, quality of education, bringing Quebec back in, improved hiring for BAs, mental health on campus

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) has announced 137 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 34 postsecondary institutions across the country.

Harvey P. Weingarten, President of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has written an op-ed for The Globe and Mail presenting four recommendations to improve the quality of education at universities and colleges. Weingarten suggests less government micromanaging, funding based on outcomes, and a...

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Out of the ivory tower to the public square: an interview with Shauna Sylvester

Every year, university campuses across the country fill with the hum and excitement of students looking for personally and intellectually transformative experiences. These students represent an unrivalled wealth of social and intellectual capital. Many of them dream of changing the world when they are older, but some universities are encouraging their students to tap into this energy as part of their education.

Key among these institutions is Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The Federation had the privilege to speak to a leader in community engagement at SFU, Shauna Sylvester, Professor of Professional Practice, Director of the SFU...

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SSH News: Measuring SSH impact, Guy Laforest at Big Thinking, SSHRC funds data analysis, and PhD completion


It has been an exciting week for the humanities and social sciences!

The Federation has launched a new working paper proposing impact metrics for humanities and social science research. Executive Director Jean-Marc Mangin led the French-language launch of the impacts project on October 6 at the “Mobilizing Knowledge for Social Innovation” colloquium at Concordia University.

Political science professor at Université Laval, Guy Laforest, spoke at the Federation’s Big Thinking lecture on Parliament Hill today, where he proposed that Quebec re-engage with Canadian politics after its long internal exile. Professor Laforest also wrote an...

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Our President-Elect asks universities to evolve, not transform radically

Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

“I love you, please change.”

These words succinctly capture Stephen Toope’s message to Canadian universities in his rich, nuanced and compelling October 2014 report for Taking Action for Canada: Jobs and Skills for the 21st Century. An initiative of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Taking Action for Canada seeks to bring together educators, governments and businesses to develop solutions and best practices for keeping the next generation of Canadian workers engaged. 

Toope, a scholar of international law, is President-Elect of the Federation. He...

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New Working Paper: Finding New Ways to Maximize HSS Research Impact


Matthew McKean, Policy Analyst, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences has been hard at work on an ambitious research impact project. Our new working paper, entitled “The Impacts of Humanities and Social Science Research,” launches today at Concordia University in Montreal at the “Mobilizing Knowledge for Social Innovation” colloquium, organized by the Fonds de recherche du Québec, as part of the prestigious Entretiens Jacques Cartier.

Why, you ask, should we worry about defining research impact and why should we attempt to measure it?  Because in this era of...

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SSH News: Big Thinking video, Paul Davidson speech, university-college agreement, and IDRC-SSHRC awards


Jim Miller: Why Don’t We Get Along? (video available)

Jim Miller’s Big Thinking on the Hill lecture, Why Don’t We Get Along? is now available in full on our YouTube channel. Happy viewing!

Smarter Skills for a Smarter Canada

Paul Davidson, president of AUCC, spoke at the Economic Club of Canada on September 25th about the key role that university education plays in preparing students, including art grads, to succeed and innovate. Davidson pays special attention to the flexibility of options at Canadian...

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