Tracking the trends

November 18, 2015

When you think of a statistical study, what comes to mind? Do you picture a thick report, full of statistical jargon and complicated graphs? Indeed, if you're like most people, you've probably read a media article about a study recently, rather than an actual study. For anyone who isn't an expert, wading into the source material can be a daunting prospect.

Thankfully, there's the StatCan publication Insights on Canadian Society. Celebrating its third anniversary next month, this overview collection of statistical studies on social issues presents information in an accessible format for all audiences, without losing any substance. In all, since its inception, Insights has highlighted StatCan analysis in more than 30 articles.

Exploring Canada

Each study tells Canadians a bit about who we are and how we live as a society. What does it mean to be Canadian in 2015?

Recent Insights studies have looked at youth political participation, employment patterns of Canadian families with children, the relationship between First Nations youth high school completion and participation in extracurricular activities, and the varying circumstances of grandparents who live with their grandchildren.

For Insights founding editor, Sébastien Larochelle-Côté, writing for a non-specialist audience is a major part of the publication's mandate. As Mr. Larochelle-Côté explains, "It is all about informing people. If you are not understandable, then you are not able to inform the policy conversation."

Guiding principles

When selecting material, the Insights editorial board is guided by four basic principles:

Relevant topics: Insights topics are generally of interest to the public and help inform policy discussions. The ultimate purpose of the publication is to provide insights about social data and to contribute to the public discourse by publishing vital information on a particular subject.

Comparative advantage: Is Statistics Canada best positioned to conduct a given analysis? Sometimes, an analysis requires unique subject-matter expertise, or data must be integrated from multiple sources, or stakeholders have specific needs, or there could be a combination of these elements.

Timeliness: As an online publication that can react quickly, Insights tries to highlight the availability of new data series. This requires a close relationship with subject-matter experts. The goal is both to move quickly, and to get it right.

Subject-matter experts: Insights presents material from across all subject-matter areas at StatCan and by doing so is able to showcase analysis of the numerous, varied surveys and datasets at StatCan.

This range of expertise has allowed the publication to focus on different aspects of major surveys. For instance, Insights published three separate studies based on the Survey of Financial Security: "Changes in wealth across the income distribution, 1999 to 2012"; "Changes in debt and assets of Canadian families, 1999 to 2012"; and "Employer pensions and the wealth of Canadian families."

Insights will also play a significant role in publishing some of the many analytical studies that will follow the 2016 Census.

More mobile

Coming in December, online publications like Insights and the StatCan Blog will become more mobile-friendly with the implementation of responsive design. This mobile-friendly design model has been progressively adopted since June 2015 with The Daily redesign. Accessing the latest news and analysis from your cellphone will be easier than ever.

2015 publications:
Title Date
Regional differences in the educational outcomes of young immigrants November 18, 2015
Recent changes in demographic trends in Canada October 27, 2015
Political participation and civic engagement of youth October 7, 2015
Differences in the location of study of university-educated immigrants September 15, 2015
Employment patterns of families with children June 24, 2015
Changes in wealth across the income distribution, 1999 to 2012 June 3, 2015
Participation in extracurricular activities and high school completion among off-reserve First Nations people May 13, 2015
Changes in debt and assets of Canadian families, 1999 to 2012 April 29, 2015
The local unemployment rate and permanent retirement April 22, 2015
Diversity of grandparents living with their grandchildren April 14, 2015
Senior care: Differences by type of housing February 25, 2015
Employer pensions and the wealth of Canadian families January 15, 2015

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User comments

Are the publications commissioned by the editorial board? Or are these selected submissions?

Thanks for your question. The articles are selected and approved by the editorial board of Insights on Canadian Society, and are written by the analysts working in the subject-matter divisions.