Plaus made major contribution to S&T

Guest Contributor
December 16, 2002

Statistics Canada and the science and technology community are losing one of their most accomplished proponents with the retirement of Bert Plaus. Plaus is ending a 28-year career in which he made a major contribution to the relatively new field of S&T indicators and influenced the way in which those indicators are measured internationally.

Plaus has made an indelible impact on those who work in the field, from his early days in the 1970s at the Science Statistics Centre (co-located with the now defunct Ministry of State for Science and Technology) to the last several years as chief of science and technology surveys at Statistics Canada.

“Bert is the person that developed the federal survey of S&T. He’s an innovative leader and we are lucky to have him,” says Dr Fred Gault, director of StatCan’s science, innovation and electronic information division. “He’s recognized as an expert in the area of doing Frascati surveys and is sought after internationally.”

The Frascati Manual is the OECD manual for measuring resources devoted to R&D development. Plaus’ innovative work led to revisions in the manual, which is used by 30 countries. He recently completed an overhaul of the higher education sector survey, resulting in significant revisions that captured previously unrecognized R&D activity.

Within Canada, he is responsible for collecting data that contribute to gross expenditures on R&D or the GERD, the most widely used indicator for measuring a nation’s R&D intensity.

“Bert is a living memory in the S&T community in Canada,” says Dr Pierre Étienne Grégoire, with Quebec’s revamped Ministry of Finance, Economy and Research. “Provincial distribution of federal S&T expenditures has always been a touchy subject but he always made sure that all the data were published, allowing the many different parties involved to disagree over a common set of figures.”

Upon his retirement in January, Plaus’ duties will be temporarily assumed by Antoine Rose, StatCan’s special advisor on life sciences. “We are going to miss him a great deal,” says Gault. “He is a great repository of knowledge upon which we all depend.”


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