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Research for a Brighter World

Strategic Research Plan 2018-2023

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The Difference Research Makes

University research is the foundation of knowledge. It is the driver of innovation and critical to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our society. Research is the tool that supports evidence-based decisions—decisions that inform policy, impact organizations, and influence the lives of citizens locally and globally.

Research also has the power to bring diverse groups of people together behind a common, focused goal. It develops our understanding—socially, culturally and physically—of the world in which we live. It teaches us how to teach and guides how we learn on our own and with others. It empowers individuals and groups, and advances our understanding of cultures and social relations.

At McMaster, it is our goal and responsibility to use our evidence-based knowledge to support understanding, enable positive change, and, ultimately, advance the health and well-being of society.


In the spring of 2011, McMaster University released a document that would serve as a calling card for the next chapter of our illustrious history. Titled Forward with Integrity, it reaffirmed McMaster’s commitment to strengthening the excellence of our research while, at the same time, seeking opportunities to integrate research more purposefully into our academic mission.

Since then, we have been engaged in an institution-wide process that has brought faculty, staff, and students together to review our research mission in detail. The goal was not merely to preserve McMaster’s enviable position as a Canadian research powerhouse, but to ensure that we continue to make a difference—in the competitiveness of our researchers, in the quality of our teaching, and in the impact we have on the world around us.

Research for a Brighter World…Strategic Plan for Research 2018-2023 lays out a vision and plan to bolster McMaster’s research mission and to take our institution’s research excellence to an even higher level.

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The Face of a Great Research University

Our purpose is the discovery, communication and preservation of knowledge.

Our vision is to achieve international distinction for creativity, innovation and excellence.

Living our Core Values

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Living our Core Values

Living our Core Values

McMaster’s commitment to research excellence is informed by a set of core values from which we will not waver:

  • We insist on ethics, equity and excellence in scholarship in all research programs.
  • We regard the work of educating students, and of extending the boundaries of knowledge through research, as inseparable and mutually reinforcing activities.
  • We conduct research that advances society, using the best practices and cutting-edge technologies available to us.
  • We support collaborative work and thinking across faculties and disciplines as an essential driver of innovation.
  • We partner with hospitals, governments, institutions, and businesses locally, nationally and globally to share resources and expertise, solve complex problems, spur economic growth and create a more skilled workforce.
  • We share our knowledge widely to help shape policies and practices that will strengthen communities and improve lives in Canada and around the world.
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Our Commitment to Fundamental Research

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Paradigm-shifting Research for the Greater Global Good

From the outset, McMaster has been known for its pioneering spirit and ability to look at the world in new and unique ways.

From becoming the first University in the Commonwealth to house a nuclear reactor, to our radical notion of problem-based learning and evidence-based medicine that revolutionized the way doctors learn and practice, McMaster’s outstanding researchers have had extraordinary success in achieving outcomes that have deep and far-reaching impact on health, prosperity, and the future of our planet.

While not exhaustive, here are some of the key areas where our researchers are delivering new knowledge, new tools, and new solutions to meet our most pressing global challenges.

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Strategic Initiatives to Meet Complex Challenges

McMaster has earned its reputation as a research powerhouse on the strength of our faculty and their ability to work collaboratively across the disciplines. Our multi-disciplinary approach to research has become synonymous with our name and is a hallmark of our research brand. Considered a strategic advantage in and of itself, McMaster’s size — large enough to attract some of the world’s best researchers, yet small enough to maintain a collaborative research environment — differentiates us from our peers and positions us to tackle some of the most complex challenges of our time.

Adhering to our Core Values and in the context of our paradigm-shifting researchers, McMaster has now identified strategic themes to galvanize our research efforts in the years ahead. In pursuing these themes, we recognize that generating new knowledge is neither simple nor straightforward.

To have a positive impact locally and globally, we’re building on our research successes and using our collective expertise — considering all aspects of, and approaches to, research knowledge across our disciplines — to ensure a multi-dimensional approach. We know the whole is greater than the sum of our parts and that stellar research, combined with, persistence, diligence and commitment, will deepen our shared understanding of the world and contribute to making a better society.

These following themes are both focused and broad: broad enough to engage researchers across all faculties, departments, schools, centres and institutes, yet focused enough on the institution’s existing research excellence in areas of established and developing strength.

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Enhancing our Research Enterprise

McMaster is recognized globally for its vibrant enterprise — an enterprise that extends far beyond on campus boundaries and includes our partner hospitals throughout our region. This is a testament to the quality of our researchers and their unrelenting commitment to excellence.

To ensure we remain competitive, continue to innovated and positively impact the broader community of which we are a part, we need to make strategic investments in support of research and our researchers. To this purpose, we have developed the following enabling strategies:

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Research for a Brighter World…Strategic Research Plan
2018-confirms the University’s commitment to all research pursuits across the disciplines and identifies opportunities to enhance our research stature.

Building on our individual strengths and interdisciplinary capacity, it outlines our commitment to fundamental research; Indigenous ways of knowing; and our responsibility to place our knowledge in the hands of those who can put it to its best use, through knowledge mobilization and translation, technology transfer and commercialization.

It is intended to nurture our culture of collaboration with our hospital, government and industry partners, advance our dynamic research enterprise, and guide or development of key strategic research initiatives of local, national and global importance.