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

To ensure we remain competitive, continue to innovate 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:

Expandable List


A heightened international competition for top-ranked faculty and graduate students, combined with a provincial mandate to demonstrate differentiation, has led to a pressing need to hire and retain faculty and graduate students of the highest calibre.

The most important factor affecting the excellence of our research enterprise is the quality of the faculty we hire and retain.

  • We will continue to recruit, promote, and retain talent of the highest calibre.
  • We will promote the hiring of new faculty into research “clusters” that will best enable us to build research capacity and excellence at the international level.
  • We will work to attract and retain the highest caliber of researchers through deployment of Canada Research Chairs and reach the goals described in McMaster’s Canada Research Chair Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan.
  • We will promote a deeper understanding of the importance of diversity to strengthen our research programs and teams, and develop specific programs that commit to gender equity.
  • We will ensure that Indigenous ways of knowing are recognized as valid forms of research.
  • We will develop stronger mentoring programs for young researchers to ensure they develop to their fullest potential, to achieve McMaster’s expectation of research excellence, and to build strong, flexible, long-term research programs capable of attracting widespread industry and government funding.
  • We will direct more funds to newly tenured professors to encourage the development of new lines of exploration focused on strengthening their research careers through interdisciplinary research teams and larger external grant applications.
  • We will create a central pool of funds, to be adjudicated by the Provost and Vice-President, Research, that can be accessed to provide additional research funding and attract truly outstanding researchers with competing offers from other institutions.
  • We will provide increased support to faculty members applying for highly-regarded awards, prizes and honours.
  • We will work with the School of Graduate Studies to support its efforts to recruit more high quality international students to selected programs through such channels as Mitacs, China Scholarships Council, Erasmus+, and other scholarship programs around the world.


McMaster recognizes that access to research platforms with specialized equipment and technical expertise is essential to advancing basic research and competing on the world’s research stage. Across our campus—from department-based laboratories to suites of equipment housed within centres and institutes to state-of-the-art national research facilities— our platforms provide our researchers the cutting-edge methods and tools required to impact their fields of research, and enhance Canada’s national research landscape.

Housed within the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research, the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (CCEM) provides world-class microscopy capabilities, expertise and training to researchers and industry from across Canada. CCEM is living up to its vision: serving as one of the leading electron microscopy facilities in the world for the quality of scientific research, promoting interactions amongst researchers in various fields on an international level.

McMaster serves as the headquarters of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN), recognized and funded as one of Canada’s major science initiatives. This network provides a high-performance computing platform to meet national needs on data processing, security, and storage. In partnership with Statistics Canada, the CRDCN provides a vast array of social, economic, and health confidential microdata to universities, governments, and collaborators.

McMaster University also serves as the National Coordinating Center for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). The CLSA is a Canada-wide, long-term study that will follow 50,000 Canadians aged 45 and above for at least 20 years, with the goal of finding ways to help Canadians live long and live well.

The McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR) is one of the University’s most unique research platforms. Built in 1959, it was the first university reactor in the British Commonwealth, and it remains the most powerful research reactor at a Canadian university.

The MNR supports research across a range of disciplines, from biological and medical research and the production of medical isotopes—one of only two producers of iodine-125, a radioisotope used to treat prostate cancer—to material composition and neutron and gamma scattering. It’s where researchers and students study nuclear safety and where the aerospace industry tests for flaws in turbine blades and corrosion of aircraft components. And, it’s the core research facility from which two new Canadian biotech start-ups were born.

MNR is a central feature of Canada’s scientific landscape. With the closure of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River Laboratories—Canada’s primary facility for neutron-based research—MNR will be the country’s sole nuclear research facility above low thermal power. Plans are underway to increase the MNR’s capacity in order to support research programs that will be lost with the closure of the NRU.

Research platforms allow us to make paradigm-shifting discoveries but, regardless of whether they are housed within a department, faculty, or serve as Canada-wide centres, they come with significant capital and operating costs.

  • We will develop a university-wide approach to manage and support research platforms in a sustainable fashion.
  • We will develop an inventory of all major research equipment and its use and strategically consolidate infrastructure and associated expertise to ensure maximum use of resources and appropriate planning for renewal.
  • We will connect researchers with professional writers, paid external reviewers, and others who can assist in the development of high-quality grant applications for major infrastructure.
  • We will work with business officers and the Office of the Vice-President, Administration, to calculate, for each major platform, the true total operating costs, projected use, and sources of funding to ensure sustainable business models.
  • We will enhance the core services offered by the Research and High-Performance Computing Support group to better support the burgeoning use of research and advanced computing by developing a more cohesive and comprehensive digital research strategy that is aligned, across the institution, across the province, and across the country.


High-quality research often stretches well beyond administrative boundaries to include research institutes, centres, and groups that encourage and support interdisciplinary research. These institutes are key to attracting the best and brightest talent to McMaster and supporting research at the highest level.

  •  We will facilitate Research Groups, Centres and Institutes in maintaining a high level of excellence through development of supportive policies and guidelines for their development, operation, and review.
  • We will evaluate the effectiveness of some interdisciplinary institutes reporting to the Vice-President, Research, versus reporting to a coalition of Deans.
  • We will investigate, in partnership with faculties, the School of Graduate Studies, and relevant international partners, opportunities for interdisciplinary graduate programs related to research institutes.
  • We will consider the creation of a fund to attract renowned visiting researchers to Institutes and Centres for terms of 1-2 years.


McMaster Innovation Park is a critical asset to the University’s research efforts. We need to ensure that its mandate aligns with and leverages our overall strengths, furthers economic and social development, and increases experiential learning opportunities for our students.

  • We will develop space specifically designed for the development and launch of spin-off companies, and setup a process and committee for allocating space on the strength of the potential for commercial success and opportunities for diverse teams of researchers.
  • We will develop space for more established firms that relate directly to the University’s research priorities and whose presence will aid the development of spin-offs and further interest in research at the university.
  • We will develop specific programs that commit to equity and diversity in entrepreneurship to foster fresh ideas and perspectives that will lead to business success.
  • We will ensure that knowledge transfer activities and impacts (e.g., commercialization or public policy improvements) are fully recognized and rewarded in tenure, promotion and annual performance reviews.
  • We will establish a network of successful entrepreneurs to facilitate faculty members’ efforts to commercialize their research.
  • We will better support effective knowledge and technology transfer between our researchers and their industry, government and community partners.
  • As part of our commitment to the long-term sustainability of innovation at McMaster, we will continue to promote an understanding of the critical importance of foundational research to knowledge transfer, commercialization, and development of public policies.


Applications for large, complex, and interdisciplinary projects demand a significant commitment of time and energy. Additionally, such projects often require administrative support in their application preparation. We are committed to assisting our researchers produce innovative, comprehensive, and competitive applications.

  • We will initiate a competitive fund to support major grant applications, particularly for those which demand more time and effort than traditional Tri-Council applications.
  • We will continue to provide competitive internal funding for interdisciplinary research programs that are designed to lead to much larger, externally funded programs.
  • We will develop robust mentoring programs to assist all faculty seeking partners; with heightened mentoring opportunities for SSHRC-based partnership programs.
  • We will develop a stronger, more competitive, internal review process designed to maximize the success of researcher applications to major granting programs and funding competitions that place a limit on the dollar amount and/or number of applications the university can submit.
  • We will ensure that all researchers and all Faculties have access to these initiatives.


McMaster recognizes the importance of communication and outreach activities related to our research programs. Indeed, some Tri-Agency programs now require that a certain proportion of allocated funding be dedicated to such work. Our efforts to improve our activities in this area will be directed to increasing collaboration and cooperation across the University, as well as with external partners.

  • We will strengthen relationships between the Office of the Vice-President, Research, Associate Deans of Research, and Research Facilitators.
  • We will build synergies between the Office of the Vice-President, Research, the Faculties, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the Community Engagement Office to capitalize on knowledge mobilization efforts and outreach opportunities—through both faculty and graduate student opportunities.
  • The Office of the Vice-President, Research, will leverage opportunities with the Office of University Advancement to ensure our success stories are told and to help attract research support.
  • We will work to increase our level of partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Health Care and focus cross-institutional research teams on some of the major concerns affecting the health of Canadians and people around the world.
  • We will work to strengthen existing university partnerships with our sister institutions (e.g., the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium with the University of Waterloo and Western University) and build relationships with other potential partners (e.g., University of Guelph and University of Toronto), in an effort to support large, complex research programs and make effective use of research infrastructure.
  • The Office of the Vice-President, Research, will work with the Office of International Affairs to build on existing, and identify potential, global research partnerships.


It is critically important that we monitor our progress as we work to build on our world-leading research enterprise. Resting on our laurels is not an option if we are to retain—indeed, increase—our status in the global rankings. Simply put, we need to be at the top of our game. Ensuring that we perform at our best will require effective and reliable methods by which we can measure ourselves against against our peers.

We will develop a series of metrics to allow us to extract relevant and useful data about our research progress, compare ourselves to peer institutions, and evaluate the results of our efforts by department, faculty, and at an institutional level. For some research areas, these metrics will include information on citation rates, external funding, and research awards. However, such metrics do not necessarily provide an accurate representation of research excellence in other areas and McMaster recognizes that some areas of research are difficult to evaluate in quantitative terms. This is particularly so in cases where the impact of the research is felt most strongly in communities, related policy changes, and works of art.

One approach to monitoring progress that cuts across all areas of research is a system of self studies and regular external reviews. By periodically requiring a self study, the directors of institutes and centres, chairs of departments, and deans of Faculties will need to evaluate the research programs within their own area of study and have their studies reviewed by external, high quality reviewers, who have a strong sense of the relevant disciplines around the world.

The Provost and Vice-President, Research, will review each Faculty’s progress on a regular basis and, where warranted, approach deans for plans on how they will work to improve their Faculty’s research programs.