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Undone Science and Canadian Health Research

Mon, August 14, 2:30 to 3:30pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Level 5, 516C

Abstract

In 2009, the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) declared to the research community that it would cease funding research that fell under the mandate of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). After this date, health research within the “Tri-Council Agencies” of Canada, which are responsible for social science and humanities research funding, was to be directed toward CIHR. This change raised concerns of fit and legitimacy from social science and humanities scholars who had previously sought funding under SSHRC (see Albert et al. 2008). It also raises questions about undone science that accompanied this policy change. This paper presents publically available quantitative data from the SSHRC and CIHR funded project database. We show that only 39% of a sample of SSHRC-funded health researchers received Tri-Council funding after the policy change. The majority of those successful with CIHR after 2009 were members of schools of medicine who had already received funding from CIHR prior to 2009. A broader distribution of disciplines were successful with SSHRC after 2009, but tended to shift their research focus away from a health and society focus, with varying degrees of subtlety. We argue that the change in the structure of health research funding has resulted in some undone science, with significant implications for social science and humanistic inquiry into health issues in Canadian society.

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