Canadian Social Science Faculty Survey

2. Methodology

It should be noted from the outset that the purpose of the Social Science Faculty Survey is not to map the social sciences, but to gather information on research activities in the areas in which the Research and Statistics Division currently is working as well as in areas identified as emerging. In this, the questionnaire asks about justice related teaching and research in these areas; there likely are areas that responding faculty may be working on that are not captured here. On the other hand, we wanted to use broad parameters within these bounded areas. For example, in the area of Aboriginal people, we not only wanted to know about who was working in such areas of Aboriginal community justice but also about researchers working in the area of self-determination, or in the area of contemporary non-Aboriginal peoples’ perceptions of Aboriginal issues.

Moreover, we wanted to include a broad range of researchers. Our population frame includes not only criminologists, sociologists, and political scientists, but also social workers and psychologists. Having said this, not all faculties are represented here; anthropology, philosophy or schools of education, for example, are not included. The population parameter was driven mainly by resources.

2.1 The Questionnaire

The design of the questionnaire was a collective undertaking with each member of the Research and Statistics Division providing input about their main areas of research responsibilities including information on prominent themes within those areas.The wide range of topics within the questionnaire is indicative of the variety of topics on which researchers within the Division are or may be required to conduct work. The fifteen broad areas of interest included, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Aboriginal peoples,
  • alternative approaches to justice,
  • criminology,
  • diversity,
  • families in transition,
  • family violence,
  • governance,
  • impaired driving,
  • large-scale crime,
  • new genetics and biotechnology,
  • new information technology/Internet,
  • sexual offences,
  • socio-political issues,
  • victimology; and
  • youth justice.

Sub-areas are included for all broad areas other than impaired driving. For example, the sub-areas within criminology include corrections, deviance and social control, forensic psychology, mental disorder and the law, policing, sentencing, and theoretical criminology, along with “other, please specify”.

In addition to research and teaching interests, the questionnaire asks faculty members to list their most recent publications, whether they have ever served as an expert witness, and the areas in which the students they are currently supervising are conducting research. A copy of the Social Science Faculty Survey is included as Appendix B.

2.2 Population Frame

Table 1: Total Number of Departments and Faculty Included in the Social Science Faculty Survey Population Frame
Department Number of departments across Canada Total number of faculty members in each
Criminology (E) 12 121
Criminology (F) 1 19
Native Studies (E) 1 1
Political Science (E) 50 450
Political Science (F) 8 45
Psychology (E) 65 750
Psychology (F) 14 215
Social Work (E) 26 403
Social Work (F) 7 33
Sociology (E) 44 780
Sociology (F) 9 41
Total 237 2,860

In order to build the population frame, complete lists of faculty members from each university department were required. Building the faculty lists was a fairly detailed process. The process began with the AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) Website that lists universities across Canada, both French and English, and their Internet addresses. Faculty lists, the director or chair of the department and mailing information were compiled using these Internet sites. A few schools that were not listed on the AUCC Website[4] were included as other relevant Websites were consulted to ensure all universities across Canada were identified. The population frame included information on the faculty member's name, email address, phone number and fax number by university and department. The total number of departments and faculty is provided in Table 1.

2.3 Data Gathering Process

Data gathering was through a mail-out, mail-back questionnaire. An introductory letter from the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy Sector,[5] Department of Justice Canada, was sent to the director or chair of each department to introduce the survey (Appendix A). This introductory letter explained the purpose of the study and it included a faculty list that had been compiled from each department's Website where available. The director or chair was asked to update the enclosed faculty list, or to provide a list where none was available from a Website. Upon receipt of the updated list, questionnaires were sent out to each individual faculty member. In a small number of cases, chairs or directors were not available or in some cases there was a change-over in staff where the next chair or director of a given department was not yet known.[6] In these cases surveys were sent directly to the individual faculty member from the initial stage.

The survey was mailed out by discipline in a staged approach between April and July 2000. Initially, each discipline was given one month to complete and return the questionnaire; a follow-up call was made to the director or chair of each department as a reminder to ask faculty members to complete the questionnaire. Once all the questionnaires were mailed out, a final follow-up email was sent to all directors or chairs of the departments as a final reminder, as well as to extend the mail-back deadline to October 31, 2000 to accommodate faculty members who were unavailable over the summer. The follow-up e-mail is provided in Appendix C.

2.4 Response Rate

Responses were received from all 237 departments, and a total of 552[7] questionnaires were returned. Of the 552 surveys, 13 were incomplete and therefore could not be entered. One hundred and eighty one (181) respondents indicated that they were not working in a related area, they were not interested in being part of the database, or they were not available to undertake additional research at this time. The remaining 358 completed questionnaires comprise the database of experts who are interested and available. With a mail-out of 2,860, the overall response rate is 19%, with 358 or 12.5% comprising the final database.

Table 2: Total number of departments and faculty included in the Social Science Faculty Database
Department Number of departments from which responses were received Total number of interested and available faculty
Criminology (E) 12 31
Criminology (F) 1 8
Miscellaneous (E)[8] 1[9] 3
Political Science (E) 50 74
Political Science (F) 8 3
Psychology (E) 65 102
Psychology (F) 14 14
Social Work (E) 26 34
Social Work (F) 7 10
Sociology (E) 44 78
Sociology (F) 9 1
Total 237 358

The response rate in part reflects the areas of research and teaching interests of Canadian faculty. That is, it is likely that faculty not working in the areas simply did not take part. The response rate also reflects the interests or available time to participate in social science research in support of the activities and programs of the Department. Table 2 provides the total number of faculty included in our inventory of experts from which the Department of Justice can draw for social science research support. Where faculty are cross-appointed to more than one discipline, we have listed them according to how they self-identified on the returned questionnaire.

Table 3 illustrates the response rate by department, indicating the percentage of faculty members from each department that comprise the database.

Table 3: Response Rate by Department
Departments (English and French) Response rate: Percent of Departmental Faculty Included in the Database
Criminology 28%
Political Science 16%
Psychology 12%
Social Work 10%
Sociology 10%

  • [4] Some schools were not listed on the AUCC Website because they offer degrees through correspondence or because they are considered to be colleges, despite the fact that they offer Bachelor's degrees.
  • [5] The Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy Sector, at the time of mail-out was Janice Charette.
  • [6] Some university staff were on holiday, and some academics were on sabbatical.
  • [7] A number of completed questionnaires were received after analysis was completed; these responses are included in our database but are not included in this report. All numbers in the report refer to questionnaires received before November, 2000.
  • [8] There was one response from each of the departments of Native studies, law and accountancy. One school of accountancy and one law school were included because two professors indicated that these were the schools with which they were affiliated.
  • [9] The one school that has a Native studies department was contacted, however the responses from the departments of Law and School of Accountancy were voluntary, and thus cannot be counted as having been contacted directly.
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