About the Laboratory

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What is the McGill-Concordia Laboratory of the QICSS?

The McGill-Concordia Laboratory of the Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics (QICSS) was made possible by a Canada Research Chair in Social Statistics and Family Change awarded to Céline Le Bourdais in the Fall of 2004 along with a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Céline Le Bourdais is professor in the Department of Sociology at McGill University and the academic director of McGill-Concordia Laboratory. She has a long experience in the teaching and conduct of quantitative longitudinal analysis applied to the study of family. A research team working on family issues is currently working at the McGill-Concordia laboratory and the facilities found at Peterson Hall.

From the beginning, the Quebec academic community has opted for a "network approach" and decided to pool its resources and know-how in order to foster the development of social statistics. Comprised of seven universities, including its main infrastructure at Université de Montréal, QICSS is the only Research Data Centre (RDC) in Quebec. The opening of a branch laboratory on the McGill campus (others branches are located at Université du Québec à Montréal, Laval University, and Sherbrooke University) brings the data and resources closer to the researchers of both McGill and Concordia Universities. Furthermore, the laboratory also promotes statistical training and interdisciplinary dialogue across both campuses in order to ensure that studies conducted there make the best use of the data and have the widest impact possible on the academic community, societal organizations and policy makers.

What can I do at the laboratory that I cannot do at a library or online?

QICSS is part of the broader Network of Research Data Centres (RDCs), which was founded in 2000 to expand on the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) undertaken by Statistics Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). While the DLI ensures that part of Statistics Canada's data is publicly accessible by students and researchers (usually through University libraries), the RDC program promotes the use of a wider range of more detailed data in cutting-edge research. RDCs are secure facilities housed at Universitites across Canada where researchers can access and analyze a variety of Statistics Canada longitudinal datasets.

Data is available from a growing set of Statistics Canada surveys (for information on the most commonly-used data at QICSS, click here; for a complete list of Statistics Canada data available at RDCs, click here). Using this data, researchers can now, among other things, follow the experience of recent immigrants in settling to Canada or gain a better understanding of the socio-economic factors that affect adults' and children's well-being throughout the course of their lives. Due to the quality and wealth of the data, the results of many of these studies have been published in top academic journals and have been noticed by media and policy-makers.

Within this framework, Concordia and McGill University researchers and graduate students from a wide range of faculties and departments have already begun to undertake significant work using QICSS data. For example, researchers from the departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Psychiatry and the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy are working on projects which include themes such as the impact of peer relations on adolescents, gambling addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder among the Canadian forces, and access to health care. Users from the departments of Sociology, Social Work and Political Science are exploring a number of subjects ranging from the effects of family transitions on children’s well-being to the factors that shape political ideology throughout adolescence.

By creating an environment in which these studies are conducted simultaneously, promoting statistical training, and organizing events, the presence of QICSS on the McGill campus will improve research, graduate student training and dialogue between disciplines.

Why is it necessary that QICSS and its branches are secure facilities?

One of the difficulties with longitudinal data files has been to find a way to produce public-use microdata files that contain sufficient detail for researchers, while safeguarding the privacy of respondents. RDCs such as QICSS and its branch laboratories are expressly designed to overcome these obstacles, by making it possible to do essential social research, while assuring the confidentiality and security of data. The centres are, essentially, extensions of Statistics Canada offices, and operate under the same security provisions as any other Statistics Canada offices, including the use of physical access controls and stand-alone computers with no links outside Statistics Canada. RDCs are housed at Universities across Canada where researchers have access to Statistics Canada's many longitudinal surveys (those that track the responses of individuals over a period of time and offer a much richer source of information for analyzing social issues than do the traditional, more limited, cross-sectional surveys). All data sets have been stripped of personal details-such as names, addresses and phone numbers-that could be used to identify particular individuals. Branch laboratories like the McGill-Concordia laboratory, are, essentially, extensions of the QICSS main laboratory; data can be accessed and analyzed at the branch laboratory, but confidentiality and security of the data is still maintained through a rigourous "vetting" procedure of all statistical output, completed at the main laboratory.

Who can use QICSS laboratories and how can I gain access?

QICSS laboratories are open to the Quebec research community.

Please click here for more information on the application procedures needed to gain access to the QICSS, or any other Statistics Canada RDC.

Who works at the laboratory?

The McGill-Concordia laboratory of the QICSS is under the direction of Céline Le Bourdais, professor in the Department of Sociology at McGill University, and Canada Research Chair in Social Statistics and Family Change. Geneviève Brunet-Gauthier acts as facilitator and coordinator. The laboratory itself is staffed by Yves-Emmanuel Massé-François, statistical analyst from Statistics Canada. 

What resources are available at the laboratory?

The McGill-Concordia laboratory of the QICSS has eight dual-monitor workstations available that are connected to the data server and equipped with statistical analysis package software, such as SPSS, SAS, ArcGIS, R and STATA, as well as Microsoft Office software. In addition, the laboratory has two internet-connected computers that researchers can use to check email, and access web-based information.

When is the laboratory open?

Summer 2017 Opening hours:

Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 17:00.