The Substance ÉTS team had the opportunity to participate in the 2016 edition of the Journées de la relève en recherche, which took place at the Université de Montréal on September 22 and 23, 2016.
Co-organized since 2013 by the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec, these meetings bring together approximately 250 master’s, PhD and postdoctoral students, along with about forty professional stakeholders for discussions and thematic workshops designed to support and show appreciation to the next generation of scientists. It is also an opportunity to award the ACFAS prizes to the student award winners.
Overview of some workshops selected by the Substance ÉTS team
1 – Opening Plenary Session – Research System 101
Frédéric Bouchard, president of ACFAS, opened the event by welcoming the participants with a message filled with creative points and optimism for the future scientific community in Québec. His speech emphasized the importance of a vision focused on higher studies leading to conduct research, as well as the progress of social projects. He encouraged students to thoroughly explore career opportunities outside the academic environment and participate in initiatives from different sectors very early in their academic careers. He also covered topics such as the history of scientific research in Québec, the creation of funding agencies or the positioning of major stakeholders of the Québec research system, and the importance of knowing this network for future career opportunities.
2 – Applying for a scholarship or grant (FRQNT and NSERC)
This workshop, hosted by Michel Garceau of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT), and Catherine Harrison of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) helped participants with ideas on how to prepare quality funding applications in natural sciences and engineering. The presenters also gave some tips to increase the students’ chances of obtaining scholarships:
- Carefully read the application rules and abide by them: requests that do not comply with the rules will be refused.
- Do not wait until the last minute to complete a scholarship application, as obtaining certified copies of documents may take longer than expected. The site where applications can be downloaded may also be overwhelmed with requests if too many applications are submitted on the last day, potentially causing some to miss the deadline.
3 – Popularizing science: make your thesis read like a story…
Johanne Lebel, editor of the ACFAS Découvrir magazine, is an expert in the art of “telling” a story based on a scientific subject. Whether it is to raise public awareness on a topic, a thesis read like a book, or present results to large organizations, popularizing the research is essential for any researcher. To do this, she shared some of her tips:
- Define the target audience and adapt the wording accordingly.
- Choose a relevant title: the goal is to catch the reader’s attention and indicate the subject of the article.
- Handle the beginning of the article with care: the first paragraph must entice the reader to continue reading.
- Write in a rigorous and concise manner, and find analogies: you are not writing for your peers but to a public unfamiliar with the subject.
- Finish with a strong conclusion: address the problem introduced in the beginning and keep in mind that this is where the last impression is made. A sloppy conclusion can tarnish the entire text!
- Be in love with your subject: be motivated and involved, these are the best ways to develop a linguistic style.
- Read the text out loud: this will help detect where the text may be too wordy!
4 – Creativity in research
This workshop, conducted by Sylvie Gendreau, founder and director of the Cahiers de l’imaginaire, helped the audience to understand how creativity could be beneficial to research. She defined the term creativity and presented the creative process outlined by Graham Wallas (1926) in four words (preparation, incubation, illumination, verification), which forms the basis of most processes. She then introduced creative activities for each phase of the process that participants tested in teams.
5 – Marketing an innovation
During this workshop, Christine Martens, Director of Business Development, and Shahad Salman, Legal Advisor, both from Aligo Innovation s.e.c., introduced an overview of the commercialization process and the different types of intellectual property. Indeed, given their reductions in research and development, companies are increasingly turning to universities to develop innovative products. However, both entities are subject to very different realities: researchers’ priorities are to publish their results to be recognized by their peers and find potential collaborators, whereas companies tend to keep any discovery secret and they are looking primarily for a return on investment. The role of university research commercialization companies like Aligo Innovation s.e.c. is to bridge the gap between these two entities and promote economic development through the innovative technology transfer coming from their partner institutions, notably through the creation of spin-offs and by improving the competitiveness of existing businesses.
6 – Open Access: rationale and how it works
Open Access has been a hot topic for several years in academic circles. Vincent Larivière, who holds the Canada Research Chair in the transformation of scholarly communication, and who is also the scientific director of Érudit, presented an overview of the role of scientific journals since their inception. The internet has certainly facilitated the dissemination of scientific literature to all, but it has also led to the emergence of thousands of potentially unscrupulous publishers . Consequently, researchers who wish to publish an open access article must do the legwork up front to properly assess the credibility of the journals in order to protect their own reputations!
For more information on the full program of the 2016 edition.