Canadian Astronomical Society

Canadian Astronomical Society

May 13, 2005 17:23 ET


Attention: Education Editor, Media Editor, Science Editor, Tech/Telecomm Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor MONTRÉAL--(CCNMatthews - May 13, 2005) - (Montreal, May 13) New figures from the Institute for Scientific Information
(ISI) rank Canada number one in the world of international astronomy. This is
the only area of scientific research where Canada leads the world.

The Institute for Scientific Information rates the quality and impact of
scientific research worldwide by measuring the citation rate of research
papers. To calculate the citation rate, ISI monitors recognized journals
in all disciplines of science, and tabulates how often a specific research
paper is cited in subsequent published research. The frequency with which
a paper is cited is a strong indicator of both its quality and impact on a
specific field of study.

According to the recently released figures (available at )
Canada now ranks first in the world in astronomy. Canadian researchers, the
ISI statistics show, contributed to 4,836 research papers in space science
(astronomy) over the past ten years. In all, these papers were cited in other
published studies 76,921 times, giving Canada an overall citation rate of 15.91,
the highest of any country. In contrast, American astronomers averaged 15.18
citations per paper, English astronomers 14.85, and Russians, 4.96 citations
per paper.

"The fact that Canada ranks number one in citations is of no surprise to me,"
says Dr. Matt Mountain, Director of the international Gemini Observatory.
"Canadian astronomers are producing some of the best astronomy in the world,
some of it right here at Gemini, and the instruments and software developed by
Canadian teams are second to none."

According to Dr. Greg Fahlman, Director-General of NRC's Herzberg Institute of
Astrophysics, Canada's success is based on a strategy of focussed investments.
"We invest in facilities and projects that build upon our existing strengths and
then focus most of our research on the big scientific questions of our time, such
as the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy."

Because Canada builds state-of-the-art instruments for the best orbiting and
ground-based telescopes in the world, says Fahlman, Canadian astronomers have
access to the world's foremost observatories where they can, in turn, work at
the forefront of astronomical research.

We also, says Dr. René Racine, Professor Emeritus at the Université de Montréal,
have an exceptional university community that includes and trains not only
observational astronomers and instrumentalists, but some of the best theoretical
and computational astrophysicists in the world. By working as a unified community,
with significant interchange between theoretical and observational astronomers,
Canada has created a powerhouse of discovery.

Highly cited Canadian projects include the Canada-France Redshift Survey and the
Gemini Deep Deep Survey , projects that examine the structure and composition of
galaxies at great distances from ours. Projects such as these are changing our
understanding of the early universe. In theoretical astrophysics, researchers such
as J.R. Bond and C.B. Netterfield at the University of Toronto and M. Halpern at
the University of British Columbia are highly cited for work in the physics of the
very early universe, the origin and evolution of cosmic structure, dark energy and
dark matter.

While it's wonderful for Canada to be ranked number one in astronomy in 2005, our
long term goal, says Dr. James Hesser, President of the Canadian Astronomical Society,
is to keep Canada at the forefront of astronomy. To do this, he emphasizes, we must
maintain a strategy that clearly works - wise investment in key scientific questions -
a strategy laid out in the Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy and Astrophysics
in the 21st Century, a report published in 2000.

"In the Long Range Plan," says Hesser, "we set clear, ambitious targets focussed
squarely on key questions concerning the origins of structure in the universe."

The report, he says, lays out Canada's vision for astronomy for this decade and
beyond, allowing us to focus our energy and resources on areas where we can have
the most impact. Several of the recommendations made in that report, including
Canadian participation in the Atacama Large Millimetre Array and the James Webb
Space Telescope, are receiving funding. Fulfillment of this commitment, says Hesser,
will ensure that Canada will continue to play a lead role in international astronomy
in the decades to come.

For more information on the ISI statistics, a listing of Canada's astronomy citation
superstars and Canadian astronomy highlights, including Canada's Long Range Plan
please visit

CASCA will host a press conference on this finding on Sunday May 15, at 11:45.


11H45 AM

Please contact Dr. Robert Lamontagne (514-715-2147) for more details.

For more information please contact:

Dr. Dennis Crabtree
Phone: 250-216-9970

Dr. René Racine
Phone: 450-464-8809

Dr. Jim Hesser
Phone: 514-715-2147

Dr. Greg Fahlman
Phone: 514-715-2147

Dr. Robert Lamontagne
Phone: 514-715-2147


Contact Information

  • Dr. Robert Lamontagne, Press Officer, Canadian Astronomical Society
    Primary Phone: 514-343-6111 ext. 13195
    Secondary Phone: 514-715-2147