A Snapshot of Canadian Publications in 2023

Published On: April 2024Categories: 2024 Editorial Series, Editorials


Hamed Taherdoost

University Canada West

Associate Professor

Hamta Business Corporation

Head of R&D

Q Minded | Quark Minded Technology Inc.

R&D Director

Headshot of an arab man in glasses and a suit
Disclaimer: The French version of this editorial has been auto-translated and has not been approved by the author.

As we embark on 2024, it becomes imperative to take stock of the current state of publications within Canadian universities, both public and private. These publications not only reflect the intellectual vibrancy of the academic community but also play a pivotal role in shaping global conversations, fostering innovation, and contributing to the nation’s intellectual legacy.

The landscape of Canadian publications is dynamic, mirroring the diverse and cutting-edge research conducted in institutions across the country. This article serves as a comprehensive guide, offering insights into the trends, challenges, and opportunities that define the publishing landscape in Canada. Understanding the current scenario is not only crucial for those within academia but also for industry professionals, policymakers, and anyone with an interest in the pursuit of knowledge.

To comprehensively assess the academic landscape in Canada, a thorough search has been conducted in Scopus search using the affiliation country field for “Canada,” uncovering a substantial dataset of 2023 documents, which translated into an impressive 129,283 results. This investigation revealed intriguing insights into the diverse research areas that contribute to the robust academic environment in the country, providing a nuanced understanding of the scholarly endeavors undertaken by Canadian institutions.

On the other hand, exploring private universities is pivotal for developing a holistic understanding of the Canadian academic landscape. These institutions bring unique perspectives, innovations, and research initiatives that complement the diversity and richness of the higher education sector. Recognizing the significance of private educational entities, the guidance provided by the Government of Canada’s official website, Canada.ca, was turned to, leading to the comprehensive directory at https://www.cicic.ca/2/home.canada, which encompasses a total of 4222 institutions. Following a meticulous filtering process focused on private (both non-profit and for-profit) colleges and universities, 249 potential candidates were identified. To further refine the search and ensure relevance, a subsequent Scopus inquiry, specifically targeting affiliations with institutions in Canada, yielded a more focused dataset, producing 40 results. The intention behind this methodological approach was to systematically identify and consolidate information on private educational institutions in Canada, with a particular emphasis on those affiliated with Scopus, shedding light on their contributions to academic research and publications.

Public Universities

Public universities in Canada, particularly the major institutions, have demonstrated a prolific output in academic publications, contributing significantly to various fields. The trends in research output, as evidenced by the subject areas, illustrate the diverse and evolving nature of academic pursuits in Canada. The emphasis on Medicine (43468 documents) and Engineering (19982 documents) suggests a concerted effort to address pressing societal needs and technological advancements. Social Sciences (17913 documents) and Computer Science (15456 documents) highlight the interdisciplinary collaborations occurring within public universities, fostering a holistic research approach. These trends indicate a dynamic academic landscape that is responsive to emerging challenges and opportunities. 

Examining the affiliations of notable publications reveals the impactful contributions of specific public universities. The University of Toronto emerges as a frontrunner with 19,960 publications, emphasizing its role as a powerhouse in academic research. Other major contributors include The University of British Columbia (11,658), Université McGill (9,123), and the University of Alberta (9,106). These institutions showcase a commitment to producing high-quality research that spans diverse disciplines, fostering collaborations both nationally and internationally.

The prominence of Canadian public universities in global rankings is reflected in the affiliation data. The University of Toronto leads the way, reaffirming its status as a global research hub. Other institutions such as The University of British Columbia, Université McGill, and the University of Alberta also contribute significantly to Canada’s standing in the global academic community. The impact on global rankings serves as a testament to the world-class research and academic excellence fostered by these public institutions, solidifying Canada’s position on the international stage.

Private Universities

Private universities in Canada contribute to the academic landscape with their distinct missions and focus areas. Despite their smaller scale compared to public institutions, these universities play a significant role in advancing knowledge across various fields. A comprehensive analysis of private universities reveals a diverse range of institutions, each with its unique strengths and contributions to academic publications.

Trinity Western University in British Columbia stands out with 95 publications, reflecting its commitment to scholarly research within a non-profit university framework. Similarly, the University Canada West in British Columbia, with 75 publications, demonstrates the capacity of for-profit institutions to engage in meaningful academic endeavors. Concordia University of Edmonton in Alberta, a non-profit university with 52 publications, showcases the scholarly output of private institutions outside major urban centers.

Additionally, specialized institutions like the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Ontario, with 47 publications, and Yorkville University spanning British Columbia, Ontario, and New Brunswick, with 31 publications, underscore the diversity of disciplines and educational offerings within the private university sector.

Noteworthy private universities such as St. Mary’s University in Alberta, International Business University in Ontario, and Adler University in British Columbia contribute significantly to the scholarly discourse, with 21, 20, and 19 publications respectively. These institutions, along with others like Redeemer University in Ontario and Quest University Canada in British Columbia, enrich the academic landscape with their research output and collaborations.

While some private universities like Crandall University in New Brunswick and Canadian Mennonite University in Manitoba are recognized for their contributions with 18 and 7 publications respectively, others such as Adler Graduate Professional School in Ontario and Acsenda School of Management in British Columbia demonstrate the growing presence of for-profit institutions in academic publishing, with 4 and 1 publications respectively.

Despite their smaller scale, private universities in Canada, whether non-profit or for-profit, contribute significantly to the academic discourse, enriching the scholarly landscape with their diverse perspectives and specialized research contributions.

Funding and Support

The research landscape in Canada is buoyed by robust financial support from a diverse array of funding sponsors, ranging from government agencies to private foundations, reflecting a commitment to advancing knowledge and innovation across various disciplines. The total funding landscape is marked by substantial contributions from leading organizations, with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) leading the way with 22,373 funded projects, underscoring its pivotal role in supporting scientific endeavors. Other major contributors include the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) with 9,020 projects and the National Natural Science Foundation of China with 6,208 projects, showcasing the global collaboration that characterizes Canadian research.

  1. Government Support

The Government of Canada emerges as a significant supporter with 5,862 funded projects, highlighting its commitment to fostering a thriving research environment. Additionally, the Canada Research Chairs program, with 3,411 projects, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with 3,067 projects, play crucial roles in providing essential infrastructure and attracting top-tier talent to Canadian institutions.

2. International Collaborations

Canada’s research endeavors extend beyond its borders, evident in collaborations with international sponsors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) from the United States and the National Science Foundation (NSF) contributed 4,305 and 3,047 projects, respectively, reflecting the transnational nature of scientific inquiry.

3. Sector-Specific Support

Sector-specific funding sponsors, such as the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé (1,949 projects) and Mitacs (1,683 projects), play pivotal roles in advancing health and innovation-focused research, demonstrating a concerted effort to address societal challenges.

4. Academic Contributions

Leading Canadian universities also actively participate in funding research, with the University of Toronto (1,155 projects), the University of British Columbia (1,051 projects), and the University of Alberta (845 projects) securing funding for numerous projects, illustrating the vital role universities play in shaping the research landscape.

5. Private Funding and Collaboration

While the majority of funding comes from government sources, private entities also contribute significantly. A diverse range of private sponsors, such as Trinity Western University (3 projects), Concordia University (2 projects), and companies like Pfizer (397 projects), engage in research collaborations, demonstrating the synergy between academia and industry.

Challenges and Opportunities

As Canada’s research landscape evolves, it encounters both challenges and opportunities that shape the trajectory of academic endeavors. While the country benefits from substantial research funding, there is a need to diversify funding sources to ensure resilience against economic fluctuations and avoid overreliance on specific sponsors. Interdisciplinary collaboration remains a challenge, hindering the realization of the full potential of research initiatives. The increasing global competition for research talent and funding necessitates a strategic approach to maintain Canada’s standing in the international research community. Additionally, the rapid advancement of technology presents both opportunities and challenges, requiring researchers to adapt to cutting-edge tools while addressing issues such as data security, ethical considerations, and access disparities. Ensuring inclusivity and diversity in research environments is an ongoing challenge, requiring concerted efforts to create welcoming and supportive spaces for individuals from all backgrounds.

However, amidst these challenges lie significant opportunities for Canada to strengthen its position in the global research arena. Strategic international collaboration can foster partnerships, shared knowledge, and increased global impact. Embracing emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, positions Canada as a global leader and attracts talent and investment. Open science initiatives, including open-access publications and transparent data sharing, enhance collaboration and accelerate the pace of discovery. Investing in education, particularly in STEM fields, cultivates a skilled workforce and contributes to innovation. Strengthening connections between academia and local communities provides opportunities for research to address real-world challenges, enhancing the relevance and societal impact of academic endeavors. With a focus on climate and environmental research, Canada can take a leadership role in sustainable practices, biodiversity preservation, and contributing to global solutions.


In 2023, Canada’s publications landscape reflects a dynamic and multifaceted research environment within both public and private universities. The comprehensive analysis has illuminated the diverse contributions across various disciplines, emphasizing the strengths, challenges, and opportunities shaping the nation’s academic endeavors. As Canada grapples with funding diversification, interdisciplinary collaboration barriers, and global competition, strategic initiatives must be embraced to ensure the resilience and continued success of its research ecosystem.

The evolving research landscape presents a spectrum of opportunities, from fostering international collaborations and embracing emerging technologies to promoting open science and investing in education. Through concerted efforts to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities, Canada has the potential to reinforce its global standing as a hub for innovation and knowledge creation. The interconnectedness of academia, industry, and the community will play a pivotal role in navigating the complexities ahead, fostering a collaborative spirit that propels Canada towards a future characterized by groundbreaking research, inclusivity, and societal impact. As the nation advances, it is poised to contribute significantly to the global pursuit of knowledge and innovation, making enduring strides in the ever-evolving landscape of academic excellence.