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I was going to hold off on posting this until next week, but with the news today that DFO is apparently already dismantling the infrastructure of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), I figured there was no time like the present.

In May 2012, the Government of Canada announced that the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), the world’s only whole-lake experimental area, would close.  Despite their modest contribution of approximately $650,000 (CAD)/year for operations, the Canadian government cited financial reasons for the closure.  The closure of the ELA is but one example of the deteriorating government support for science in Canada, and is strongly opposed by the Canadian scientific community.

To demonstrate the scientific output and impact of the ELA, I constructed a Google Scholar profile, using 1001 peer reviewed journal articles, theses, and government reports from 1969-2013 that were produced by university and government scientists at the ELA.  This is like putting together a CV for an entire facility.

There are a couple of useful metrics – first is the number of citations a paper receives.  As of 12 March 2013, these publications have received 47,910 citations, including 15,578 from 2008-present.

The next is the h-index.  This measures the number of papers, n, that have been cited at least n times.  For example, if I have 7 papers that have received 7 citations or more, making my h-index 7.  The cumulative h-index for the ELA is 110 , and 2/3 of contributions (665) have been cited at least 10 times.  Six of these have accumulated > 500 citations, and one has garnered > 1500.  If you want to peruse the Google Scholar profile yourself, go ahead!

The contribution of the ELA to scientific knowledge is almost unparalleled by any individual.  The ELA ranks in the top 3% of all living chemists, and exceeds all Nobel physics laureates, even when adjusting for varying citation and publication rates.

The scientific output of the ELA offers incredible value for research dollars, in addition to the immeasurable value of the scientific knowledge and expertise it generates.  This is especially true in an era of providing larger grants to fewer researchers.


As of 15 March 2013 (2 days after I initially wrote this and did the calculations), ELA papers have racked up an additional 11 citations, taking the total to 47,921; ELA cabins being prepared for demolition.