Dissertation Information for Kirsti Elizabeth Nilsen
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Social science research in Canada and federal government information policy: The case of Statistics Canada
Abstract: The effects of information policy on use and users of government information by focusing on social science researchers' use of information from Canada's central statistical agency, Statistics Canada. Two literature reviews cover social scientists' use of statistics, and government information policy. A multi-method approach is used to examine the effects of specific Canadian federal government restraint and cost-recovery initiatives of the mid-1980s which applied to government information. Statistics Canada's response to these initiatives is revealed using case study methodology. Bibliometric research objectively documents policy effects on social science researchers' use of statistics sources by examining a sample of 360 articles published from 1982 to 1993 in 21 Canadian social science research journals in Economics, Education, Geography, Political Science and Sociology. Examination of citations, tables, and text in the sampled articles reveals extent of use of statistics from Statistics Canada and other governmental and nongovernmental sources, both Canadian and foreign, over a period before and after policy implementation. A survey of authors of sampled articles supplements the bibliometric findings. Results of the case study show that Statistics Canada sought to recover costs and achieve greater revenues through higher prices and increasing electronic data dissemination. Bibliometric analysis shows there was no significant change over time in use of statistics from Statistics Canada or any other governmental or nongovernmental source. The use of Statistics Canada paper products declined significantly. The survey reveals that social science researchers are unhappy with the price increases, but have not changed the statistics sources they use as a result. The movement of statistical information into electronic formats is well received, though more respondents (in 1995) still used paper products than electronic ones. Possible explanations for these findings are proposed. Alternative effects of increased prices and format changes are suggested which might be examined in future research. Additionally, the implications of the research findings in relation to these social scientists and the agencies involved in information and management are discussed as potential topics for further research.
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