Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE Population Studies Proseminar

The Proseminar is a series of three short courses open to all students who are interested in learning about the practice of population research and becoming aware of issues relevant to demographers.The Fall Winter, and Spring quarters  cover different topics and may be taken out of sequence.  New CSDE trainees are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Autumn quarter Proseminar as soon as possible because it introduces them to CSDE faculty and their research specializations, and to CSDE staff and their varied support services. It also emphasizes professional development and academic and career planning. The winter Proseminar covers research methods, data management, reproducibility, and good research practices. This short course in research methods and practices is oriented to pre-master’s students with some research experience. The responsible conduct of research, human subjects review and practical tips on ethical issues in research are covered in the spring.

The seminar is graded credit/no-credit. The Autumn quarter is one credit and the Winter and Spring quarters are two credits. Each quarter is required for students wishing to obtain CSDE’s Graduate Certificate in Demographic Methods.

Fall Quarter

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the field of demography and CSDE staff and resources, and a workshop to learn about the profession and map out academic and career pathways.

Course Objectives

  1. Help students interpret and understand what the field of demography is, and acquaint them with interesting research questions and emerging areas or debates in demography. Students will be introduced to several CSDE Faculty Affiliates and their research specializations.
  2. Meet students in other disciplines who share interests in population sciences from other perspectives.
  3. Introduce students to CSDE staff members who manage the computing core, and staff members with expertise in  statistical methods and data, geospatial analysis, and biodemography who will discuss the services and support they provide to enhance your research and productivity.
  4. Socialize new trainees into the discipline and profession of demography. The instructor and other CSDE affiliates will provide information on career development and tips on how to navigate the professional world, including publishing in population science journals and securing fellowships and research funding over the course of a career.
  5. Assist graduate students in becoming responsible for actively obtaining needed resources and training and for seeking guidance from their mentors, who should support them as partners in their training.
    1. Students work throughout the quarter on developing an Individualized Development Plan (IDP) under the guidance of the instructor and in close consultation with advisors or mentors. An IDP is a dynamic self-evaluation and career exploration tool used to set goals for research projects, skills development, and career planning. It is a written list of objectives mapped to a timeline and serves as a framework for discussion between the students and their faculty advisors and mentors. The IDP provides students with tools to help them make good academic progress, receive effective mentoring and support, and develop professionally. The process of working on an IDP often provides an impetus to seek additional mentors or faculty collaborators, offering an advantageous variety of perspectives and guidance.
    2. Students learn to write effective IDP’s through class discussion, assigned readings and detailed instructions for completing the CSDE IDP template. They write multiple drafts of the IDP. Students discuss the first draft of their IDP early in the quarter to help one another explore research, career and personal goals more deeply and begin to set their research agenda and career development strategies. They receive feedback from the instructor on each draft.
    3. Students are expected to update the IDP annually (or more often) to reflect accomplishments and changes in their career and research objectives.
    4. Both the IDP and the assignment to complete an abstract and NIH biosketch will help students move towards a research trajectory that will prepare them for the job market and opportunities for fellowships and grants.

More detailed information is available on the Canvas website of the most recent Autumn quarter, 2017-2018.

Winter Quarter

Course Description

This course is meant to fill a perceived curriculum gap between methods courses that emphasize study design and statistics courses that teach statistical analysis. It focuses on applied methods for data preparation and will introduce the following topics: data management and documentation, data cleaning and variable creation, working with demographic data, and reproducibility. It consists of two five week modules: The first will use an Add Health public data set and Stata to teach documentation, data cleaning, and variable creation. The second will use The Human Mortality Database and R (via RStudio) to teach visual displays in R and reproducibility (via RMarkdown).

The course presumes familiarity with Stata as well as R and RStudio.

Course Requirements

  1. Introductory graduate level research methods and statistics
  2. Basic knowledge of Stata; see below for details
  3. Basic knowledge of R; see below for details
  4. Ability to work in the RStudio environment

Stata Requirements

Students taking this course are required to have prior experience with Stata: its graphical user interface, data types, varlists, help pages, and .do files. They need to know the basics of reading and writing Stata data files, renaming variables, labeling variables, labeling variable values, assigning missing values and using the Stata commands list and tabulate to check their work. Note that these basics are covered in the CSDE Introduction to Stata Workshop. If you are not too familiar with Stata, then the recommendation is to go over the material in the workshop and do the exercises. When you are confident with the material in the workshop, you are ready to take this course.

Stata Resources

There are many resources for learning Stata. A few are listed below, but many others can be found by searching the web.

R Requirements

Students taking this course are required to have prior experience with R. This includes creating objects (variables) in R and saving them to an R workspace; reading an R workspace (.RData) file, reading data files in ascii text format, and using functions. They need to be able to work with vectors, arrays (matrices) and data frames. If you are not too familiar with R, the recommendation is that you go over the material and exercises in the CSDE Introduction to R Workshop. When you are confident with the material in the workshop, then you are ready to take this course. Experience with the RStudio environment is also required, including knowing how to create and use an R script file. If you understand all of the RStudio windows as shown in this Introduction to RStudio, you will be adequately prepared to take this course.

R Resources

There are many resources for learning R. A few are listed below, but many others can be found by searching the web.

Spring Quarter

Course Description

This course provides training in the protection of human subjects and the responsible conduct of research. The topics covered and format of the class meet the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requirements for training in the protection of human subjects, which is required for all PI’s and key personnel involved in NIH funded research, including research assistants, and requirements for training students  who are supported by NIH training grants or other NIH institutional grants.

The class is open to all interested students. The goal of the seminar is to provide students with a knowledge base as well as practical advice on ethical issues pertaining to research. We will cover a selection of topics from case studies, journal articles, and selections from the leading textbook in this field, and connect these topics to seminar participants’ experiences and their areas of research. Research designs of studies will be discussed in weeks devoted to discussions of the responsible conduct of research.  Students will get more out of these sessions after having completed a course in research methods and introductory statistics. More detailed information is available on the Spring Quarter’s Canvas website.