TRU near bottom in study on research
Thompson Rivers University brass is casting positive light on a recently released academic study in which it was found to be at or near the bottom among Canadian schools when it comes to faculty research.
A report titled Measuring Academic Research in Canada: Field-Normalized Academic Rankings 2012, released last month, pegged TRU dead last in science and engineering research and in the bottom half for social sciences and humanities research.
Alex Usher, one of the study’s authors, said the seemingly poor performance of TRU is nothing to worry about.
“If you look at Thompson Rivers — its origins as part community college and part open university — it’s not a huge surprise,” Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, told KTW.
“There’s a pretty heavy correlation between institutional age and score here.”
TRU ranked 40th out of 61 schools overall — 37th and 46th out of 61 in social sciences and humanities research and 54th and 55th out of 55 in science and engineering research.
The number are based on bibliographic citations and funding for faculty research.
Christopher Seguin, TRU’s vice-president of advancement, said the scores are to be expected.
“We’re delighted on where we came out in the social sciences,” he said.
“As for the other rankings, we’re at the very beginning of an evolution where our capacity is growing every year.
“The more of our faculty that engages in active research, the more change we’ll see in these numbers. Given time, we’ll evolve into something far different than we are right now.”
Seguin also noted the involvement of undergraduate students in faculty research at TRU — something that doesn’t happen often on other Canadian campuses.
“Some of our undergrads have access to lab equipment that post-grads at other universities rarely see,” he said.
“It’s a big advantage for us.”
In the overall rankings, TRU finished ahead of established universities, including Regina, Winnipeg and St. Francis Xavier, and not far behind Ryerson, Acadia and Brock.
The overall rankings were topped by UBC, followed by McGill, Toronto and Alberta.
In the future, Usher said, TRU will likely move up the charts.
He brought up the example of Toronto’s Ryerson, which had a start similar to TRU about 15 years earlier.
“With size and money, they’ve pulled up to be about one-third of the way up the ladder,” he said. “Thompson Rivers is not the same size yet.
“I’d say if you come back in another 15 years or so and you don’t see Thompson Rivers start to rise, then that might be indicative of something.”