About TRaCE McGill

Goals

By tracking and reporting on the career pathways of PhD graduates, by connecting PhDs inside and outside the academy, and by fostering exchanges of knowledge and knowhow among faculty, graduates, and students, TRaCE McGill will mobilize the learning, energy, and talents of PhD graduates for the benefit of the University, the social and economic life of Montréal, Québec, Canada, and beyond, and for the grads themselves.

The statistics and stories gathered by TRaCE McGill will enable evidence-based and forward-looking change in graduate programs across the Faculties.

The website will help connect PhD graduates with other grads and current PhD students. The grads’ narratives will inspire other graduates as well as PhD students, allowing students and grads to reach out to those whose stories speak to their interests and aspirations.

TRaCE McGill will run for three years. Its completion will coincide with the McGill Bicentennial and will enable the University to showcase how McGill PhD grads are contributing to social and economic advancement and helping to meet global challenges in the 21st century.


Methods

The multidisciplinary initiative is building a statistical database about the careers of PhD graduates. With their consent, the grads are also interviewed by in-program PhD student researchers. The conversations between students and grads focus on the grads’ experiences in their PhD programs and their career pathways after graduation. The edited interviews along with audio clips are featured on the TRaCE McGill website.

Stage 1: Survey of PhD Graduates, 2008-2018

PhD grads are invited to complete a survey that focuses on where they are now and what they are doing in their careers. All responses to the survey are kept confidential and are reported only in anonymized, aggregate form.

Stage 2: Data-gathering from the Web

TRaCE McGill student researchers work to complete the statistical picture of PhD career outcomes, begun by the TRaCE survey, by searching publicly accessible websites.

Stage 3: Interviewing the Grads

Student researchers reach out to the grads from their Faculties and explain how important their stories and their experiences are, especially to in-program PhD students. Once the grads provide their consent, the student researchers conduct interviews with them, either in person or by telephone or Skype. The interviews are audio-recorded. With the consent of the interviewee, a selection from the interview is transcribed and posted on the website. Also posted on the website is an audio clip from the interview.

Stage 4: Bringing the Grads back to McGill

TRaCE McGill will work to bring back a number of PhD grads as speakers and mentors, especially with the goal of enlightening in-program PhD students about the multiple career pathways that are available to PhDs after graduation.


Background

TRaCE McGill is building on two McGill-led national projects—the TRaCE pilot (2015-2016) and TRaCE 2.0 (2017-2019). The first focused on humanities graduates; the second tracked PhDs (and DMus and MFA grads) in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. The pilot tracked 2,800 humanities PhD grads from across Canada and interviewed 300 graduates. TRaCE 2.0 tracked 1,400 grads from across the country and conducted interviews with 150. The interviews have provided the basis for a growing archive of stories about PhD grads’ educational and professional careers. The two preliminary projects have been featured in national publications and have enabled the TRaCE team to develop and fine-tune its methodology.