Nov. 8, 2004

McMaster among top 10 best places to work in academia

Scientists place Canadian universities high in international rankings

Hamilton, ON - McMaster University is one of five Canadian universities ranked among the top 10 places to work in international academia by The Scientist magazine.

The international magazine for life scientists cites Canada’s innovative programs and increased funding for scientists for the high rating of the Canadian universities in The Scientist's 2004 survey of the Best Places to Work in Academia released today.

McMaster ranked seventh in the non-U.S. category. The other four Canadian universities are the University of Toronto in first place, the University of Alberta in second place, Dalhousie University in fourth and the University of British Columbia in ninth.

The magazine, which publishes both a print publication and Web site, said that since the 1990s the research environment in Canada has witnessed a virtual revolution, with personnel awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canada Research Chair programs and major infrastructure upgrades through the Canada Foundation for Innovation program.

Allison Sekuler, a professor of psychology at McMaster, is a Canada Research Chair, and also receives funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

"One of the things that's great about the Canadian granting systems, and NSERC in particular, is that they don't fund projects, they fund the researcher," says Sekuler. "You can propose one thing and get funded and start on that project and then discover a more interesting sideline and it's perfectly legitimate to go and follow that."

Across the world, scientists are surprisingly uniform in their needs, according to The Scientist's survey. Adequate laboratory and research facilities for themselves and their coworkers topped the list in just about every country. A desire for good working relationships with peers also holds a high place in the ranking.

Institutions that ranked favourably in this year's survey scored high points in those areas, including McMaster University.

Other important factors for academic scientists include adequate research funding and support for new faculty members, as well as clearly defined requirements for tenure.

The fourth annual survey was conducted by The Scientist to determine how academic researchers feel about their universities and organizations. More than 35,000 scientists were invited to participate in a Web-based questionnaire. Respondents, including those from 25 institutions in Canada and Europe, were asked to assess their working conditions and environments by indicating their level of agreement with 39 positive statements in eight different areas, as well as indicating which factors were most important to them.

Detailed information on the survey is available at

McMaster University, named Canada’s Research University of the Year by Research InfoSource, has world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 20,000 and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries.