Canadian Social Science Faculty Survey

3. Findings

3.1 Areas of Interest

Table 4 presents the 15 broad areas of teaching and/or research interests by the number of faculty members who work in each area. The table is organized by number of faculty per area, starting with the largest number of faculty working within them to the areas with the fewest. All faculty members indicated more than one area in which they work and this results in the total number of teaching and research areas exceeding the total number of faculty members.

Of all 358 faculty, a substantial proportion indicated that they are working in the areas of diversity (57%), socio-political issues (47%), criminology (35%) and Aboriginal peoples (33%). Areas that did not garner as much interest are impaired driving (6%), new genetics and biotechnology (10%), new information and technology/Internet (11%), large-scale crime (12%) and victimology (13%). The remaining issues are of interest to between roughly 20% and 30% of participating social scientists.

Because each of these 15 areas of interest is a broad area, it is worthwhile to discuss some of the sub-areas that generated a large number of the total area responses. This discussion again begins with the most common areas of interest.

Diversity (n = 205 responding faculty)

Within the broad area of diversity, the majority of responding faculty indicate that they are doing work in gender issues (61%), as well as multiculturalism (49%) and racism and race issues (44%). Some of the other areas of work indicated by respondents include sexual orientation/homophobia, aging and nationalism.

Socio-Political Issues (n = 167 responding faculty)

In the broad area of socio-political issues, approximately one-third of responding faculty list an interest in social cohesion (35%) and human rights law (32%). Only a small proportion indicate interest in firearm control (7%) and legal aid (4%). A fairly substantial proportion (24%) indicate interest in other issues such as social and employment equity, the impact of globalization, and language policy.

Criminology (n = 127 responding faculty)

In the broad area of criminology, the most common sub-areas are corrections, and deviance and social control (35% each), policing, and theoretical criminology (31% each). Some of the other categories proffered include criminal profiling, offender treatment prediction and recidivism, and eyewitness testimony.

Table 4: Area of Interest by Number and Percent of Faculty Teaching or Conducting Research in each Area
Area of Interest (in order of number of responses) Number Percent
Diversity 205 57%
Socio-Political Issues 167 47%
Criminology 127 35%
Aboriginal Peoples 117 33%
Governance 107 30%
Family Violence 106 29%
Alternative Approaches to Justice 104 29%
Youth Justice (areas of interest) 94 26%
Sexual Offences 91 25%
Families in Transition 71 19%
Victimology 46 13%
Large-Scale Crime 43 12%
New Information Technology/Internet 39 11%
New Genetics and Biotechnology 38 10%
Impaired Driving 21 6%

Aboriginal Peoples (n = 117 responding faculty)

For the faculty teaching or conducting research in the area of Aboriginal Peoples, the most common sub-areas are contemporary outcomes for Aboriginal people in the broader Canadian society (28%), treatment in the criminal justice system (26%) and Aboriginal community justice (24%). However, the majority of respondents (36%) list some other issue that was not one of the available selections. These other issues include drug and alcohol problems, education, women's issues, self-government and comparative justice.

Governance (n = 107 responding faculty)

In the area of governance more than one-third (35%) of the 107 faculty who responded indicate criminal law as the sub-category of interest. An almost equal percentage (33%) indicates the history of the law, or of crime and punishment as sub-areas of interest. Philosophy of law is also an area of substantial interest (23%). Some of the other issues include federalism, policy-making and accountability.

Family Violence(n = 106 responding faculty)

Respondents working in the area of family violence indicate spousal assault (62%) and child abuse (57%) as the most common areas of interest. Some of the other sub-categories include same-sex conjugal violence, drugs and risk assessment.

Alternative Approaches to Justice (n = 104 responding faculty)

Within the area of alternative approaches to justice, slightly more than half (51%) of the responding faculty are working in the area of restorative justice. More than one-third (38%) indicate community policing and an additional 25% indicate community justice. Twenty percent indicate interest in the other category including social justice, community interventions and mediation, and feminist approaches.

Youth Justice (n = 94 responding faculty)

Within the area of youth justice, the most common area of interest is alternatives to the formal justice process or to custody (47%). To a lesser degree, the sub-issues of the etiology of behavioural problems and law breaking (37%), sentencing (32%), mental disorder (29%) and substance abuse (28%) also have generated interest and research on the part of respondents. Some of the other areas of interest include fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, and family interventions and risk assessment.

In addition to the aforementioned general areas of interest in youth justice, respondents have particular interests in gender (25), diversity (21), and socio-economic factors (16) as sub-areas within youth justice parameters. In terms of diversity, a number of respondents indicate interest in Aboriginal and minority youth. With respect to gender, the focus appears to be on girls and violence. Interest in the area of socio-economic factors as they relate specifically to youth includes family income, parenting style and the relationship between poverty and delinquency.

Sexual Offences (n = 91 responding faculty)

With respect to the area of sexual offences, approximately half (54%) of the ninety-one faculty who reported working in this area indicate an interest in child sexual abuse (including pornography and sex trade) and sexual assault (47%). A small percentage list sex trade tourism (16%) as an area of interest. Within the other category, respondents list sexual harassment, sexual offenders and youth, juvenile issues and Aboriginal issues associated with sexual offences.

Families in Transition (n = 71 responding faculty)

In the area of families in transition, respondents working in the area indicate that their research or teaching focuses on adoption, child support, custody and access, and divorce. Divorce garners the most interest (42%) and child support garners the least (22%). Some of the other issues listed include same-sex families, family structure and employment.

Victimology (n = 46 responding faculty)

A small proportion of respondents (13%) indicate teaching or researching in the fairly new area of victimology. Within this area, the sub-issues of victims as witnesses (32%) and advocacy, the rights of victims (26%) are the most common. Some of the other areas of interest include psychological aspects related to being or having been a victim, eyewitness and other testimony, and victimology within Aboriginal communities.

Large-Scale Crime (n = 43 responding faculty)

With a total of 43 faculty who report working in the area, large-scale crime is not a very common area of work (12%) among the 358 faculty members. Of those who are researching or teaching in this area, between 20% and 40% work in the sub-areas of corporate crime (17), organized crime (15), terrorism (11), trafficking in people (11), and transnational crime (10). The majority of the other areas of interests have to do with drug crimes.

New Information Technology/Internet (n = 39 responding faculty)

The area of new information technology/Internet is a fairly new topic, and therefore not a lot of faculty members report working in this area. The majority (21) of the thirty-nine responding faculty members in this category list access to new information technology as the primary area of interest, followed by information/privacy issues (12). Only 5 report working in commercial law issues (intellectual property, e-commerce, international trade), and only 4 report working in the area of Net crime and enforcement issues. Some of the other topics mentioned include the use of new information technology/Internet in education and in the labour market, international trade and surveillance.

New Genetics and Biotechnology (n = 38 responding faculty)

A similar situation occurs with respect to the area of new genetics and biotechnology, where a small number of social science faculty (38) indicate doing work in this area. This is likely due to the relative newness of it as an area of study. The most common sub-area is reproductive technologies (17) followed by human genetic information issues (9) and genetically altered food (9). Of the other issues, use of DNA, surrogate contracts and the psychological issues related to reproductive technology are mentioned.

Impaired Driving (n = 21 responding faculty)

A very small number of responding faculty report researching or teaching in the area of impaired driving. This accounts for only 6% of all faculty interests.

3.2 Areas of Interest by Department

As discussed previously, we also are interested in the areas of work by discipline, as different disciplines bring different approaches to their research within any given area. Different approaches are important for a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of a number of issues at hand. It is therefore important to know what areas are of interest to faculty members by discipline.

As Table 5 indicates, the majority of responses came from the departments of psychology (116), followed by sociology (79), political science (77), social work (44), and criminology (39). The number of responses is, in part, a factor of the relative size of the department.


The largest proportion (43%) of the 116 responding faculty from the field of psychology are interested in diversity. A smaller proportion (32%) are interested criminology. This interest in criminology reflects the fact that many responding psychology professors are cross-appointed to departments of criminology because of the multidisciplinary nature of the field of criminology. This also is reflected in responding psychology professors' interest in family violence (32%) and youth justice (28%).


The issue of diversity is of interest to many of the 79 sociology professors who responded (66%), as are socio-political issues (58%) and Aboriginal peoples (48%). Criminology (44%) is also an area in which many sociology professors are currently working. Again, this interest is reflected in the presence of many sociologists within the departments of criminology.

Political Science

The 77 responding faculty in the field of political science are, not surprisingly, most interested in socio-political issues (76%). The issues of governance (61%) and diversity (59%) also garner a substantial amount of interest. The areas of impaired driving (1%), victimology and family violence (0.5% each) are the least common areas of interest to these political scientists.

Table 5: Area of Interest by Department
Area of Interest Number of Responses by Department
Criminology N=39 MISC N=3Table note i Political Science N=77 Psychology N=116 Social Work N=44 Sociology N=79
Aboriginal Peoples 13 2 29 22 14 38
Alternative Approaches to Justice 24 2 15 18 12 33
Criminology 36 1 8 37 10 35
Diversity 23 2 46 50 32 52
Families in Transition 5 1 6 25 16 18
Family Violence 18 1 4 37 22 24
Governance 21 2 47 11 4 22
Impaired Driving 4 - 1 11 - 5
Large-Scale Crime 12 - 12 5 1 13
New Genetics and Biotechnology 4 - 8 11 1 14
New Information Technology/Internet 7 - 10 10 2 10
Sexual Offences 15 1 7 29 15 23
Socio-Political Issues 19 2 59 18 23 46
Victimology 8 1 4 15 7 11
Youth Justice (areas of interest) 17 2 8 33 10 24
Table note i

MISC = Miscellaneous (Native Studies, Law School, School of Accountancy)

Return to table note i referrer

Social Work

The majority of the 44 respondents from the faculties of social work are most concerned with diversity (73%), sociopolitical issues (53%) and family violence (50%). They are least interested in large-scale crime, new genetics and biotechnology, and new information technology/Internet (between 2% and 4%).


Not surprisingly, almost all (92%) of the 39 responding faculty from the field of criminology list criminology as a primary area in which they teach or conduct research, followed by alternative approaches to justice (61%) and diversity (59%). A smaller proportion list families in transition (13%), and impaired driving and new genetics in biotechnology (10% each).


The three respondents from the faculties of Native studies, law, and accountancy show almost equal interest in the areas of Aboriginal peoples, alternative approaches to justice, diversity, governance, socio-political issues and youth justice. The only areas that are not of interest are impaired driving and the "newer" areas of large-scale crime, biotechnology and information technology.

3.3 Related Areas of Interest

Pursuing a multidisciplinary approach a step further, a series of tabulations was done based on combined areas that could provide fruitful areas of research. We also wanted to provide examples of the types of analysis that could be pursued through the database of experts.[10] The results of these tabulations are provided in Table 6. Some of these combined areas are discussed briefly below.

Table 6: Combined Areas of Interest by Department
Number of Faculty With Interest in Both Areas Department
Total Count N=358 Criminology N=39 Misc. N=3Table note ii Political Science N=77 Psychology N=116 Social Work N=44 Sociology N=79
Aboriginal People And Alternative Approaches 49 6 1 8 7 6 21
Aboriginal People And Alternative Approaches And Youth Justice 28 4 1 2 4 3 14
Criminology And Large-Scale Crime 27 12 - 2 3 - 10
Criminology And Youth Justice 57 15 1 4 14 4 19
Diversity And Governance 62 15 2 22 8 2 13
Socio-Political Issues And Governance 56 11 2 25 3 1 14
Governance And Large-Scale Crime 23 10 - 6 2 - 15
Families in Transition And Family Violence 34 4 - 2 11 10 7
Sexual Offences And New Information Technology/Internet 11 4 - 2 2 1 2
Sexual Offences And Youth Justice 34 9 - 2 9 5 9
Victimology And Family Violence 21 6 - - 3 6 6
Victimology And Sexual Offences 21 3 - 2 6 6 4
Table note ii

Misc. = Miscellaneous which includes Native Studies, Law, and School of Accountancy

Return to table note ii referrer

Aboriginal Peoples and Alternative Approaches to Justice

Forty-nine responding faculty work in both the areas of alternative approaches to justice and Aboriginal Peoples. Of these 49, the majority (21) are common areas for sociology professors, followed by professors of political science (8), psychology (7), criminology and social work (6 each) and in the miscellaneous fields (1). The purpose of this tabulation is in response to an increasing interest in alternative justice responses in relation to Aboriginal populations.

Aboriginal Peoples and Alternative Approaches to Justice and Youth Justice

Adding a third component, youth justice, to facilitate looking at Aboriginal youth and alternative justice responses reveals 28 respondents who do work in the three areas combined. Again, the majority (21 or 75%) of professors with an interest in these three areas comes from sociology departments.

Families in Transition and Family Violence

We have combined families in transition and family violence under the hypothesis that spousal violence sometimes increases around divorce or other familial changes. Identifying faculty working in both areas could facilitate related research. In isolation, families in transition draw 71 individual responses while family violence draws 107. However, only 34 respondents report working in both of these areas. The majority of these are from the departments of psychology (11) and social work (10).

Governance and Large-Scale Crime

The combination of studying large-scale crime in relation to governance would facilitate an exploration of legislative amendments. It would also be applicable to criminal law in relation to trans-border trafficking in people and transnational crime more generally, as well as in the areas of organized crime and corporate crime. A total of twenty-three responding professors are conducting research in both areas of governance and large-scale crime. The greatest proportion in this combination are in the faculty of sociology (15) perhaps reflecting a perspective on broad social organizations and their related issues. A number of criminologists (10) also work in both areas, as do six political scientists and two psychologists.

Socio-Political Issues and Governance

A substantial number of professors (56) are conducting research in both socio-political issues and governance. A strong result in this particular combination was expected given that each area, in isolation, yields significantly large numbers of responses (107 for governance and 167 for socio-political issues). Almost half (25) of the professors who do research in these two areas are from the field of political science. A smaller number are from sociology (14) and criminology (11).

Sexual Offences and New Technology/Internet

The purpose of this particular combination is to locate professors who are exploring the link between the Internet and sexual offences, primarily pornography on the Net. Only 11 professors are doing research in both, and approximately one-third of these is from the field of criminology. The small number of faculty reporting work in these combined areas is reflective of the relative novelty of the issue.

Victimology and Family Violence

Combined interests in family violence and victimology do not yield a substantial number of respondents. Only 21professors work in these two areas, however this represents approximately 40% of the total number of professors teaching or conducting research on victimology. Professors in faculties of criminology, sociology and social work (6 each) make up the bulk of the researchers.

Victimology and Sexual Offences

Twenty-one responding professors are working in the areas of sexual offences and victimology. This combination of interest is distributed across the faculties of social work (6), psychology (6), sociology (4), criminology (3) and political science (2).

3.4 Further Refinements in Area Specialization

In addition to the aforementioned grouped broad areas of interest, a series of tabulations also was done for individual categories or sub-areas of interest. Whether or not a faculty member indicates an interest in more than one of the sub-areas does not necessarily mean that he or she is doing work in all sub-areas combined under the broad area headings. An exploration across sub-areas allows a finer honing in on areas of expertise.

Self-determination/Legislative Amendments/History of Law

In total, 19 of the 358 responding faculty members do work in the area of Aboriginal self-determination. Of these 19, four do work in the area of the History of Law. In addition, two of the four who do work in both these areas also do work in legislative amendments.

Access to Justice/Diversity

Thirty-nine faculty report an interest in access to justice with 23 also reporting an interest in three of the four employment equity designated areas, namely, gender, race and persons with disabilities. Twenty-three have an interest in access to justice and same-sex couples.

Spousal Assault/Gender Issues/same-Sex Couples

A fairly substantial number of respondents (66) report doing work in the area of spousal assault. Of these 66, 42 are also doing work in the area of gender issues. An additional 7 are also doing work in the area of same-sex couples.

Organized Crime/ Sentencing/Transnational Crime

Of the 39 respondents who work in the broad area of large-scale crime, 15 are working specifically on organized crime and 4 of these are also doing work in the area of sentencing. In other words, sentencing does not appear to be a sub-category of interest for those working in the areas of organized crime. Of the 15 faculty members who report doing work in the area of organized crime, 6 also do work in the area of transnational crime.

Legislative Amendments/Commercial Law Issues

We expected to find some links between the areas of legislative amendments, information issues (e.g., control of privacy) and commercial law issues. However, out of 18 faculty members who report doing work in the area of legislative amendments, only two also do work in the area of information issues and none have an interest in the area of commercial law.

Criminal Law/Commercial Law Issues/Net Crime and Enforcement Issues

Given the current increase in use of the Internet and a subsequent rise in crime over the Internet, work in the areas of both criminal law and crime on the Net and its related issues is of increasing interest. Of the 38 responding faculty who work in the area of criminal law, only 3 work in the area of Net crime and enforcement issues (only 5 of the total responding faculty have an interest in Net crime and enforcement issues), and even fewer (2) work in the area of commercial law issues (e.g., intellectual property); none work in all three.

Corruption of Public Officials/Deviance and Social Control

A total of 20 responding faculty report an interest in corruption of public officials with only 4 also reporting an interest in deviance and social control.

3.5 Methodological Expertise, Doctoral Students, Experience as an Expert Witness

Methodological Expertise

A substantial proportion of responding faculty (225 or 63%) indicate having expertise in at least one social science methodology. Because many indicate an interest or expertise in more than one area, there is considerable overlap. Quantitative methods are the most commonly reported, garnering 143 responses or 40% of all faculty in the survey; qualitative methods are the expertise of 133 or 32% of all respondents; and 63 or 18% report expertise in both. Evaluation is an area of methodological expertise for 113 or 32% of all respondents. Some of the forty-two write-ins under other areas of expertise include psychometric and psychological measurements, experimental and quasi-experimental design, ethnographic research and comparative research.

Doctoral Students

The survey also gathered information on the number of Ph.D. students faculty are currently supervising and the focus of the dissertations. Of the 358 responding faculty members, 155 are supervising a total of 455 doctoral students. Not all schools offer a Ph.D. program, and within those that do, not all the dissertation topics were deemed relevant by the responding faculty member. On average, each faculty member supervises three students, although the range is broad. The majority of responding profesors are not supervising any students.

The topics that the doctoral students are currently working on cover a wide range of subjects, many of which might be of interest to the Department in the coming years. Some of the dissertation topics include: crime mapping; intellectual dialogue in the global village; political discontent, human capital and representative governance in Canada; biases in western theories of justice; and women in policing.

Expert Witness

A total of 117 of the 358 faculty members included here indicate that they have served as expert witnesses. Some of the more common areas in which their expertise is required is for various Governmental Standing Committees and House of Commons debates, as well as one for the United States Congress. Others have served as expert witnesses at trials in the areas of adoption, child development and neuropsychology.

[10] Access ’97 is the computer package used for data capture and analysis.

Date modified: