Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

The story of the Innovation Analysis Bulletin

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

by Rad Joseph

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Innovation Analysis Bulletin in 2008, we are taking a walk down memory lane to discover the story behind the creation of this periodical.

About this article

Michael Bordt, currently Assistant Director of the Environment Accounts and Statistics Division of Statistics Canada, can be credited as being the founder of the Innovation Analysis Bulletin. Recently he took a few minutes from his busy schedule to give his thoughts on the periodical.

IAB:

Michael, what compelled you to officially create the Innovation Analysis Bulletin (IAB) Was there any particular discussion or interaction that motivated you to take on this initiative?

MB:

Statistics Canada’s science and technology (S&T) and information and communications technology (ICT) analysts were looking for a way to reach a broader, non-technical audience. This included not only our counterparts in other departments, who were already making use of the working papers and science bulletins, but their bosses, academics and business leaders.

The approach was really put together by all the analysts at the time. I volunteered—or was volunteered to manage the process.

 

IAB:

What messages did you foresee the document containing and conveying?  And has that been accomplished?

MB:

The IAB was intended at first as an ongoing summary of the work in Statistics Canada on S&T, innovation, emerging technologies and ICTs. It has certainly accomplished that— and more. Some short analyses and conceptual pieces are done specifically for the IAB. They wouldn’t have a home otherwise.

 

IAB:

Volume 1, Number 1, was released in 1999.  What was the initial reaction to the publication?

MB:

The initial reaction was very quiet. We released July 26, 1999, as an “other releases” item in the Statistics Canada Daily . There were no news stories on the articles. The rest of the summer was uneventful until we noticed that the IAB was the number one downloaded publication from the Statistics Canada website for the month of August 1999. We knew somebody was reading it!

Top of page

 

IAB:

How is the information contained in the IAB being used?

MB:

Having one repository for the summaries of findings in these quickly moving fields ( S&T, innovation, emerging technologies and ICTs) certainly has a wider distribution of the results of our analysis in these fields. On occasion, I see someone reading a copy of the IAB on the bus. I can’t say the IAB is uniquely responsible for this, but when any one of the Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division (SIEID) staff went to a meeting over the past 10 years, I encouraged them to take a bundle of copies with them to distribute to the unconverted.

 

IAB:

Do you feel there are particular types of articles that readers prefer?

MB:

I was always sure they preferred the simpler articles that told interesting stories about the more important results of a study. That kind of article is not easy to write—even some of mine were less than inspiring. As analysts, we’re tempted to get in all the results, all the explanations and (we’re a statistical agency, aren’t we?) all the numbers. I asked one analyst to focus and shorten an article, so he took out most of the words and left the numbers!

It really trains our thinking about our work to decide early on in the writing what the headline will be and to focus the article on making that headline interesting, memorable and well-understood.

 

IAB:

Is there one particular issue or article that stands out in your mind?

MB:

I have always liked the summary articles. “We have learned a great deal,” in the February 2002 issue, was in response to someone who remarked on all the work we had done to that point and asked, “ But what have you learned?” We followed up four years later with “We’re still learning!” These articles chronicled the 10th and 20th issues. It’s about time for another one.

 

IAB:

As the IAB enters its 10th year of existence, distribution includes over 1,000 print copies annually and more than 200,000 cumulative downloads for the first 9 volumes issued. Do you think the IAB is getting sufficient circulation?

MB:

There is such a high turnover and growth in the audience for the subject matter that it’s a challenge just to maintain a steady circulation. The older readers are retiring and the younger ones don’t always know about it. Personally, I’m never happy with the status quo. I’m certain that there are always potential readers out there who would benefit from knowing about the IAB.

 

IAB:

Are there any amusing or troubling anecdotes that you can share regarding the IAB?

MB:

I can’t think of anything troubling other than missing a few publication dates. The first issues were certainly fun. We hired a journalist, Mark Foss, who helped set the style. He would interview us about the analysis project and insert quotes in the article. That style lives on in some of the articles in subsequent issues.

Top of page

 

IAB:

You are no longer involved with the production of the IAB.  Do you miss being involved?

MB:

I missed it so much, I started EnviroStats. I’m still involved to some degree. I have contributed to a few articles since my departure and I’m always on the lookout for collaboration. For example, I have been talking with the S&T analysts about collecting data on emerging environmental technologies.

 

IAB:

Are you a regular reader of the IAB?

MB:

As regular as I can be. I still subscribe to The Daily for e-mail notifications on subjects “S&T” and “Communications.”

 

IAB:

So, you read all of the articles?

MB:

Okay, I admit I skim the first page and jump to the articles of main interest. Eventually, I get around to reading the entire issue.

 

IAB:

Thank you for your time, Michael.  We are sure readers of the IAB enjoyed learning of the story behind its existence.