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CRDCN National Policy Challenge

Are you a graduate student with an interest in quantitative analysis? Are you passionate about Canadian public policy? Do you love data? If so, this analytical competition is for you! Seize the chance to examine an important policy issue of your own choosing using confidential microdata. This is also a great opportunity to use your research results to inform real-world Canadian policy-making and propose innovative policy solutions.

In partnership with SAS Canada and Statistics Canada, the CRDCN is pleased to launch its first National Policy Challenge for Canadian graduate students. The competition is designed to encourage student researchers to share their policy ideas and to promote the use of confidential microdata in developing innovative, evidence-driven policy solutions. The competition will allow selected participants to analyze a policy problem of their own choosing with confidential microdata and to present their research findings to their peers and to a jury composed of high-profile researchers who will select the best three presentations.
In order to be selected to enter the competition, students must submit a research proposal by October 1, 2018. We invite applications from students from all disciplinary backgrounds, such as: economics, sociology, demography, criminology, geography, industrial relations, education, epidemiology, public health, and business. Participants will be selected from among the eligible applications received before the October 1st deadline.
Competition highlights:
  • National competition across all Research Data Centres (RDCs).
  • Graduate students are given the opportunity to analyze real-world Canadian policy issues using confidential microdata from Statistics Canada with SAS analytics (preferably; or in combination with other accepted open source software).
  • Up to ten proposals will be selected for the competition - applicants will be notified in November 2018 whether or not their proposal has been selected.
  • Data analysis is to be conducted from December 2018 to May 2019 in an RDC.
  • Mentors will be available to support each participant.
  • SAS training will be provided.
  • Research findings will be presented at a special one-day event in Ottawa where a jury will select the top three presentations.
Why you should apply:
  • to deal with a real-world policy issue affecting Canadian society.
  • to access Statistics Canada confidential microdata.
  • to improve your analytical and communication skills.
  • to get access to unique SAS training.
  • to get insights from highly qualified research mentors.
  • to meet senior officials and leaders from Statistics Canada, the CRDCN, and SAS Canada.
  • to present your research findings and policy ideas to a jury composed of high profile researchers and government officials at a national meeting in Ottawa on June 11, 2019 (travel grant will be provided to each project).
  • to win cash prizes awarded to the best three presentations.


  • Graduate students, individually or in team of up to three members.
  • Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree.
  • Some background in quantitative analysis and statistics is needed.
  • Applicants must be living in Canada and be registered as a part-time or full-time student at an accredited Canadian academic institution.


  • Data analysis must be conducted in one of the RDCs across the country between December 2018 and May 2019. Find the nearest RDC to you.
  • Participants must abide by the usual RDC regulations, including security clearance and the requirement to become a deemed employee of Statistics Canada, in order to be granted access to an RDC (See for details).

 Deliverables and expectations

  • Participants will have to attend the one-day special student national meeting on June 11, 2019 in Ottawa, where they will present their research results (travel grant will be provided to each project).
  • Participants will have to provide a PowerPoint presentation in advance of the meeting.
  • Participants will have to provide a 300 word testimonial explaining the value of this experience for their academic and professional development by July 2, 2019.

Selection Criteria
Up to ten research proposals will be selected to participate in the competition based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance and timeliness of the policy issue and the research question;
  • Choice of methodology and research strategy;
  • Adequacy of the dataset(s);
  • Feasibility of the project;
  • Originality of the project;
  • Overall quality of the proposal, including the clarity of the writing;
  • Letter of reference from a faculty member (see an example here);
  • CV/ previous training in statistical analysis.

Proposals will be anonymized before review by a selection committee and by Statistics Canada to ensure the data can support the research question. Applicants will be informed of the decision of the committee in November, and access to the RDC will be granted in December.