Population Change and Lifecourse

Second CPS Graduate Research Development Conference

Graduate Research Development Conference Final Report

Project Description

The second CPS Graduate Student Development Conference was held on May 31st, 2011 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, as part of the 2011 meeting of the Canadian Population Society at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Hosted by the Population Change and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster, the aims of this conference were:

Of the Conference one student said:

I would say that the PCLC is very successful in knowledge dissemination through conference and workshop supports for graduate students. Attending and presenting in conferences in not only a crucial experience for graduate students, but also an important way of showing what researchers do in Canada.

What participants found useful about the Conference

The opportunity to have a trainer help them with their research

The presenters were pleased to have an expert in their area of interest provide them with useful commentary to enrich their papers and dissertations, specifically:

Additionally, the presenters found the written comments and notes provided to them by the trainers extremely useful in order to re-work their papers for future publications and presentations.

One of the presenters remarked:

I found the trainers extremely engaging and I hope this practice of providing students with support from faculty will continue in future CPS conferences.

The Knowledge Mobilization Seminar

Dr. Ravanera’s knowledge mobilization seminar was one of the highlights of the day for the presenters. The graduate students welcomed the opportunity to learn the means to effectively communicate their research with other students and faculty. They found the tips on how to make PowerPoint presentations useful and relevant and are planning to use them in future conference presentations.

One of the students commented:

Dr. Ravanera provided me with extensive recommendations on how to make my future presentations more effective and engaging. This will allow me to modify and improve future oral presentations and I proceed through my career. I intend to share these comments with my fellow students in my department in the fall.

Professionalization experience

For many of the students, the most useful and long-lasting benefit of participating in the Conference was the opportunity to meet with experts in their field, to meet like-minded students, and to be able to forge relationships with established demographers. Especially:

How participants will use what they have learned:

The participants were eager to pass on the information they learned at the 2011 CPS Graduate Student Development Conference to their peers and mentors at their home universities. They mentioned:

I would recommend this experience to any of my colleagues who are unsure whether or not they should make the step toward presenting their research in English or are still at the work-in-progress step. From discussion with some fellow colleagues in Montreal, I realized that many are afraid to participate in such events. I’ll try to convince them that: 1) To do a conference is certainly a push forward, 2) Comments are always helpful and can lead you to develop new aspects of your project never thought before, and 3) Work in another language can help you think differently about your project as you are forced to deal with a new vocabulary which results in a new rationale.

Organizers & Attendees


  • Stacey Hallman, Western University
  • Georgios Fthenos, Western University

Graduate Student Participants

  • Mehmet Aysan, University of Western Ontario
  • Ching Jiangqin Du, University of Western Ontario
  • Secil Erdogan Ertorer, University of Western Ontario
  • Wei Guo, University of Victoria
  • Naoko S. Hawkins, University of Toronto
  • Parvinder Hira-Friesen, University of Calgary
  • France-Pascale Ménard, McGill University
  • Muhammad Raza, University of Western Ontario

Knowledge Mobilization Trainer

  • Zenaida Ravanera, University of Western Ontario

Research Trainers

  • Rod Beaujot, University of Western Ontario
  • Rajulton Fernando, University of Western Ontario
  • Eric Fong, University of Toronto
  • Michael Haan, University of New Brunswick
  • Don Kerr, University of Western Ontario
  • Anne Milan, Statistics Canada
  • Zheng Wu, University of Victoria

Suggestions for Future Conferences

The Role of the Trainers:

Some of the students remarked that it would be useful for the trainers to provide advice as well as critiques on their works. It would be useful to be given recommendations on how to improve the aspects of their work that were problematic.

Changes in Conference Organization:

The students universally supported the conference in its present format, but had a number of suggestions for future years, including:

Additional Program Components:

One student offered the suggestion:

Zenaida Ravanera’s talk on PowerPoint presentations was very useful. For the next years, similar informative talks, such as publishing students’ research and job interview strategies for graduate students, should be included.