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Spark Newsletter: September 2, 2021

Read our bi-weekly news from Spark: a centre for social research innovation at McMaster University. In this newsletter, we highlight centre news, upcoming events, and updated resources for researchers. To subscribe to our mailing list, please email

Sep 03, 2021

Spark is so excited to introduce our new full-time Administrative Assistant, Rana El-Bahrani. Rana will help to oversee the day-to-day administrative operations at Spark. Rana has been part of the higher education sector for the past 17+ years, and her education includes a Masters in Software Engineering, Project Management, and numerous certificates. We are thrilled to welcome another strong talent to our team!

We also wanted to give a bittersweet goodbye and thank you to our temporary Administrative Assistant, Lynn Holland, who has been such a tremendous help over the summer. We wish Lynn all the best.

The Last Year at a Glance

As we reflect on this past academic year, we are excited to share our ongoing achievements and successes with the public as we continue to reach our goals of social research innovation and, ultimately, a brighter world. This year, we not only re-launched as Spark: a centre for social research innovation (formerly CRESS), but refined and grew our mission, services, website/knowledge mobilization strategy. We had an explosion of student talent and collaborated with research partners to bolster research innovation at McMaster and beyond through seminars, workshops and training sessions. Read more about the Spark Centre, our team, and how we exceeded our goals in this year's Spark Annual Report.

2020 - 2021 Annual Report

Save the Date!

Mark your calendars; the first Spark Talk of the 2021-2022 school year will be September 10th at 10:30 am. Michelle Dion will be bringing us “Back to School”  with an overview of tips and tricks for virtual platforms, backup services and accessing digital materials.

Register for "Back to School"

Spark’s Annual Open House Event

Want to learn more about the Spark Centre and how we can help you? Join our annual event this year on September 24th at 10:30-12:30 pm for information, research sessions and fun! 

Register for Spark's Open House

With Spark Talks coming soon, we are nearing the end of the (virtual) walk down memory lane to reflect on some of the great Productivity During Pandemic Presentations from this past year. Connect with Spark on Twitter (@Spark_McMaster) and tune in on Friday for our last #SparkResearchReplay.

Connect with Spark on Twitter

In case you missed #SparkResearchReplay:

Rethinking group consent in community-based research: Insights from New Zealand
Dr. Karen Nairn and Dr. Carisa Showden

Check it out here:

In case you missed #SparkResearchReplay:

Enhancing the Diversity of Course Syllabi: Tools and Other Suggestions 
Jane L. Sumner 

Check it out here:

Research guide - Qualitative Research at a Distance

This guide is a starting point for academic and non-academics to explore approaches to socially distanced but deeply engaged qualitative research methods. It aims to provide a practical foundation (in a concise and sharable format) for imaging what is possible during the current pandemic and beyond while offering suggestions for resources to learn more. 

Read the Guide

Looking to pool software licences?

Now you can! Fill out this form and we will reach out if we can match you with others looking to pool licences.

We are also attempting a pilot in fall term allowing for virtual desktop access to several licenses for major Qualitative Data Analysis software, and will be seeking volunteers to test out the viability of this option.  FSS faculty, please email if you're interested in participating.  

Research Conversations

We provide up to 4 hours of free support each year to all McMaster researchers (students, staff and faculty) on every social research topic imaginable.  If we can't help you, we'll help you find someone who can.   

Request a research consultation at

Qualtrics Licences

If you are an FSS researcher who would like to request access to Qualtrics survey software, please fill out this form:


Brighter Spark Applied Research

Spark offers custom research and evaluation, as well as highly skilled assistance in implementing virtually any social research method. Our cost-recovery services include methods and software training, custom research, state-of-the-art facilities, and taking on elements of your project to support its completion.

For a full list of Brighter Spark Applied Research's services, visit:
Help us profile your research, publications, job ads, opportunities, and upcoming events by sending them to: to be showcased in our following newsletter.

Avenue to Learn – Ask me anything

Organized by: MacPherson Institute (John Kruithof)
For: McMaster Teaching and Learning Community
September 10th from 1-2 pm 

In this session, feel free to ask us anything about Avenue to Learn. Then, we will walk through configuration scenarios that bring you to the session.
Register here:

Interactive Session for new and returning graduate Students

Hosted by: Jeffrey Demaine (Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian), and Isaac Pratt (Research Data Management Specialist)
September 23rd at 11-12 pm 

Learn how to distinguish yourself from other researchers by creating an ORCiD account, good data management practices and how to organize and document your data to save time.
Register here:

McMaster’s 16-month graduate diploma in Community-Engaged Research and Evaluation

This diploma offered by the School of Social Work provides students with the opportunity to grow and develop critical knowledge and skills in community-engaged research and evaluation.
Click here to learn more and apply:
In this new section, we want to celebrate the achievements of colleagues, friends, and those doing important social research with the potential to spark a brighter world.  We welcome recommendations for kudos features (including for yourself).  Please send them to:
Congratulations to McMaster Sociology PhD student Julian Torelli who was recently published in the Journal of Historical Sociology.
Read all about it here: 
Kudos to McMaster Economics Professor, Stephen Jones whose co-authored paper "Canadian Labour Market Dynamics During COVID-19" was featured in the Financial Post. 
Read the full article here:
A warm congrats to Marisa Young (Associate Professor of Sociology), who has been awarded a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant for research which focuses on self-care for students. The title of the research project is "Self-care for students: Community-engaged research for better well-being"
Learn more about Marisa's research project here:
Spark: a centre for social research innovation

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