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Research and development (R&D) personnel are instrumental in the advancement of R&D. This edition of the Science Statistics Bulletin reports on the number of full-time equivalent personnel performing R&D activities in Canada from 1998 to 2007. R&D personnel encompass a variety of occupations which are classified into three categories according to the International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO ): researchers, technicians and support staff. Researchers generally include scientists and engineers who engage in the conception and creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems. Technicians are individuals whose main tasks require technical knowledge and experience in R&D related fields such as engineering or physical and life sciences. Support staff encompass skilled and unskilled craftsmen, secretarial and clerical staff that participate in R&D projects. Additional details on these occupational categories can be found in the Data quality, concepts and methodology section of this publication.


In 2007 there were 142,950 researchers working in Canada, a 2.8% increase over the previous year and a 23% increase from five years earlier (2002) (Table 2-2).

Researchers are the predominant R&D personnel group. In 2007 doctoral students formed 72% of the 47,310 researchers in the higher education sector. Fifty-three percent of these doctoral students focused on natural science and engineering work, while the remaining 47% worked within the social sciences and humanities sector (Table 4-2).

Between 1998 and 2007 the count of researchers in the field of natural sciences and engineering increased 54%, while the number in social sciences and humanities increased 32% (Table 3-2 ).

Comparing all performing sectors in 2007, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia held the largest count of full-time equivalent researchers in the business enterprise sector. For the remaining provinces the higher education sector employed the most researchers. (Table 2-1)

In comparison with selected OECD countries, in 2006, the number of researchers per 1,000 labour force in Canada was 7.9 while the United States and Sweden posted higher ratios of 9.4 and 11.9 respectively. (Table 4-1).

The government sector employed 6.1% of total researchers in 2007. Eighty-two percent of government researchers work with the federal government. The National Research Council employed 1,540, the largest number of researchers among all federal departments. The majority of federal researchers, 94%, work in the natural sciences and engineering field. However, in the past decade the share of federal research personnel in the social sciences and humanities has grown from 4% to 6% (Tables 1-2, 4-3, 7).


In 2007, a total of 57,390 technicians worked in Canada, up 4.1% from 2006. Over the five year period from 2002 to 2007 the number of technicians increased 34.4% (Table 2-2).

Over the past decade, the number of technicians in the field of natural sciences and engineering increased three-quarters while technicians in the social sciences and humanities field increased 30% (Table 3-2).

The business enterprise sector employed the largest number of technicians among all provinces in 2007, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, where the business enterprise, higher education and federal government sectors employed the same amount of technicians (Table 2-1).

Other Support Staff

In 2007 a total of 28,340 R&D support staff worked in Canada, a decline of 5.4% from the previous year. However, from a five year perspective, 2002 to 2007, other R&D support staff increased 14.7% (Table 2-1).

During the ten year period between 1998 and 2007, the number of other R&D support staff in the field of natural sciences and engineering increased by almost half (48%),while the count in the social sciences and humanities increased 29% (Table 3-2).

In Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia the business enterprise sector employed the greatest number of support staff. For the remaining provinces the higher education sector employed the most support staff (Table 2-1).