Population Change and Lifecourse

Third CPS Graduate Research Development Conference

Graduate Research Development Conference Final Report

Project Description

The third CPS Graduate Research Development Conference was held on May 29th, 2012, as part of the 2012 meeting of the Canadian Population Society at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. Hosted by the Population Change and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster, the aims of this conference were:

Of the Conference one student said:

I would strongly recommend another conference of this nature in 2013. This is a great opportunity for graduate students to receive extensive review comments on their work. This type of conference certainly facilitates building social networks and developing skills for graduate students . . . I would like to express my gratitude to the PCLC for their generous support in organizing this conference.

What students 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, in 2012 we specifically requested that the trainers provide their students with written feedback on their papers and their presentations. All students found this to be useful to organize their thoughts and some students have indicated that they have already used this advice to restructure their papers for publication.

One of the presenters remarked:

In listening to the trainer feedback, it was helpful to hear comments on others’ work, as there were points that I thought were helpful to my work as well. Conversely, it was also helpful to think about some of the comments the trainers made and reason through why I agreed with them, or if I disagreed, why that was. These critical thinking skills are beneficial to develop for any career, and it gave me some practice. It also helps, as when I went back to work on my thesis, I had some of these points in mind to critique my own work, which only helps to strengthen it.

The Knowledge Mobilization Seminar

Sarah Fortin’s presentation focused on the theoretical aspects of knowledge mobilization as well as the structure of Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centres. Students received an understanding of how knowledge mobilization is currently undertaken in Canada. It was suggested that students would have also benefited from more specific advice on practical approaches for knowledge transfer, focusing on advice to make presentations more effective. The students also appreciated receiving Heather Juby’s presentation, “Creating Effective Slides for Conference Presentations” in advance of the conference, so they could take advantage of these tips in their PowerPoint slides.

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 2012 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
  • France-Pascale Ménard, McGill University

Graduate Student Participants

  • Marianne Caron, Université de Montréal
  • Benjamin Christensen, York University
  • Sam Faustmann, McGill University
  • MD Kamrul Islam, University of Alberta
  • Christine Proulx, McGill University
  • Siyue Tian, University of Toronto
  • Lisa K. Zaporzan, Western University

Knowledge Mobilization Trainer

  • Sarah Fortin, Knowledge Transfer Coordinator, Canadian Research Data Centre Network

Research Trainers

  • Roderic Beaujot, Western University
  • Martin Cooke, University of Waterloo
  • Rajulton Fernando, Western University
  • Gustave Goldmann, University of Ottawa
  • Don Kerr, Western University
  • Fernando Mata, Royal Roads University
  • Zenaida Ravanera, Western University

Suggestions for Future Conferences

The participants in the 2012 Graduate Student Development Conference were enthusiastic about the conference in its present format, including the changes implemented based on feedback from the 2011 conference. Ideas presented for the 2013 conference include: