About the SSRL

The Social Sciences Research Laboratories (SSRL) is a unique and leading network of eight research laboratories made possible by the combined support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the University of Saskatchewan, including many of its colleges, schools and administrative units. As a research support unit, the SSRL assists faculty, staff and students undertaking research in the social sciences by providing access to specialized research infrastructure (computers, software and equipment) and research space (specific and multi-purpose), and providing access to research supports in the form of specialists with backgrounds and training in specific social science research methodologies (quantitative research; qualitative research; experimental research; surveys; GIS and cartography; social network analysis; among many others).

Our mission:
To provide shared research infrastructure and technical and administrative support to faculty, staff and students at the University of Saskatchewan and beyond, to facilitate the design, delivery and dissemination of cutting-edge social science research.

The SSRL currently consists of the following laboratories:

The SSRL has three objectives:

  • To provide researchers access to shared research infrastructure and technical and administrative support.
  • To enable hands-on research training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences.
  • To enable and support investigator-driven and community-engaged research.

To learn more about the SSRL, please contact us:

Social Sciences Research Laboratories (SSRL)
University of Saskatchewan
Room 260  Arts Building  9 Campus Drive
Saskatoon SK  Canada  S7N 5A5

Telephone: (306) 966-8409  Facsimile: (306) 966-8819
Email: ssrl@usask.ca  Website: https://ssrl.usask.ca

Director's Message

2017-2018 marked a year of continued growth and maturation of the SSRL. No longer a 'new' unit at the University of Saskatchewan, the SSRL continued to entrench itself as a critical research support hub, prioritizing efforts to expand and enhance the breadth and scope of our research infrastructure, research supports, and training and development initiatives. As a unique entity that consolidates a wide array of research tools and techniques, research spaces and research methods, the SSRL has deliberately and proactively sought to deliver more, deliver better, and deliver efficiently and effectively. To reflect and acknowledge our tireless efforts to enhance support to our growing community of researchers, students and collaborators, we have aptly chosen the theme 'Strengthening Support' for our 2017-2018 annual report.

Demonstrating our success in strengthening support to our research community, the SSRL continued to grow the number of research studies supported by our unit in 2017-2018. The total number of unique research studies supported by the SSRL increased from 299 research studies in 2016-2017 to 339 research studies in 2017-2018 - an increase of roughly 13%. Not only did we observe an increase in the total number of studies supported by the SSRL in 2017-2018, but equally significant, the scope and scale of those research studies became increasingly larger and more complex in nature. The 339 research studies in 2017-2018 involved 521 researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and beyond (up about 7% from 486 researchers in 2016-2017), and engaged 706 undergraduate and graduate students as student employees or student research assistants (compared to 753 students in 2016-2017). SSRL-supported research studies also yielded 262 research outputs in 2017-2018 – an increase of 45% from the 181 research outputs produced by our researchers in 2016-2017. These research outputs were highlighted by 57 peer-reviewed journal articles, seven book chapters, five books, and 144 conference papers/abstracts/presentations (invited and uninvited). SSRL-supported research also resulted in 18 media articles, 12 graduate theses, seven technical reports, six websites, three non-refereed journal articles, and three review articles.

We strengthened support for community engagement and outreach in 2017-2018 through Taking the Pulse of Saskatchewan, an exciting project-driven partnership between the SSRL and Postmedia News Saskatchewan. The project encompasses an ongoing quarterly survey of a random and representative sample of 400 Saskatchewan residents on a variety of ‘hot-button’ topics in the province, the results of which are profiled the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post, as well as through the University of Saskatchewan and other media outlets each quarter (March, June, September and December). Launched in December 2017, Taking the Pulse of Saskatchewan generated four media articles in 2017-2018, along with invaluable opportunities to partner with media to promote and champion appropriate research methods. Taking the Pulse of Saskatchewan also afforded our unit an opportunity to transparently share cleaned and de-identified data each quarter on our website for personal use or in support of classroom-based research.

We further strengthened support for enhanced training and capacity-building in 2017-2018 through our always popular rethink research: SSRL Research Methods Summer Institute, offered May 1 - 12, 2017. Sixteen hands-on, immersive workshops were offered within the institute with the aim of providing participants with practical, usable knowledge and skills in social science research methods. Workshops covered such topics as applying mixed methods to wicked problems, geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analysis, an introduction to experimental methods, basic statistics using R, social network analysis, and using triangulation to improve credibility and validity, among others. Videos from many of the workshops offered as part of the 2017 Summer Institute are available on our SSRL YouTube Channel. In addition, the SSRL began offering regularly-scheduled monthly training in NVivo in 2017-2018 in support of qualitative thematic analysis and data management. We also established a Social Network Analysis Discussion Groupbringing together faculty, students and the general public who have experience or an interest in exploring and studying social networks.

The SSRL strengthened support for university-level internationalization activities in 2017-2018, most notably through our support and instruction at the June 19 - 30, 2017 Summer Institute on Social Justice: Practice and Research at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar. SSRL staff led seven hands-on workshops as part of the joint Summer Institute on topics that included survey design, social network analysis, triangulation and experimental methods, among others. We also supported the unique and innovative Project in International Collaborative Teaching (PICT) through SSRL-led evaluation planning and support. PICT is a cross-cultural teaching and learning model that offers an accessible form of internationalization to students and instructors, while facilitating unique international research opportunities.

We strengthened our research supports through the addition of several newly-added services that included the development and launch of the SSRL Quarterly Omnibus Telephone Survey of a random and representative sample of 400 Saskatchewan residents, the launch of the SSRL Saskatchewan Community Panel of online research panelists, and access to Amazon's Mechanical Turk as a recruitment source for online research studies. We also strengthened support to our research community through our October 3, 2017 grand opening celebration for the Community-Based Observation Laboratory (COL), allowing us to better engage and support researchers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines who wish to conduct observational research.

The SSRL sought to strengthen our communications and outreach support through increased engagement on social media. The SSRL YouTube Channel was officially launched in 2017-2018 and now hosts 44 videos across seven distinct playlists that include Taking the Pulse of Saskatchewan and our rethink research: SSRL Research Methods Summer Institute. We also increased engagement on our SSRL Twitter Feed, with a nearly 250% increase in the number of Tweets over the previous year and increased impressions and engagements, including the #ttpsask hashtag developed to engage the public in Taking the Pulse of Saskatchewan.

Lastly, we strengthened support to a growing community of SSRL-supported researchers, most notably through the addition of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition as our nineteenth partner unit in 2017-2018. Welcome to the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition! We look forward to strengthening support to your researchers in the months and years ahead.

Jason Disano

Activities, Outcomes and Impacts

The table below provides quantitative-based visualizations of the many activities, outcomes and impacts of the SSRL in 2017-2018, along with comparisons to previous years where relevant and available. Data are available for the following indicators:

  • Numbers of research studies (active and completed) supported by the SSRL in each year.
  • Numbers of research studies supported by each SSRL laboratory in each year, along with multiple-laboratory collaborations in 2017-2018.
  • Numbers of researchers supported by the SSRL by college/school or institution of origin in each year.
  • Numbers of students trained or employed by the SSRL in each year.
  • Numbers of research outputs produced by SSRL-supported researchers in each year.
  • Network analyses of SSRL collaborations by laboratory in 2017-2018 and 2016-2017, along with an animation depicting the evolution of the SSRL network over this two-year period.

INSTRUCTIONS: To view or interact with these data, simply choose the desired indicator from the column on the left-hand side of the table. Clicking on the desired indicator will display the available data. Hovering your cursor over any data visual may display the value(s) associated with that particular data point. 

Governance and Operations


To provide strategic direction and support, and to ensure the ongoing operations and maintenance of the SSRL, a formal governance structure has been instituted by the University of Saskatchewan.

SSRL Management Committee

The SSRL Management Committee provides financial and administrative direction to the SSRL and ensures SSRL operations address university, college/school and unit priorities. Members advocate for the SSRL within the university and the broader community and review the ongoing operations and activities of the SSRL.

Membership (as of April 30, 2018):

    • Michael Szafron, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health (Chair)
    • Jane Alcorn, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Affairs, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition
    • David Burgess, Associate Dean Research, Graduate Support and International, College of Education
    • Erica Carleton, Assistant Professor, Edwards School of Business
    • Jason Disano, Director, Social Sciences Research Laboratories (ex officio)
    • Nancy Gyurcsik, Professor, College of Kinesiology
    • Heather Heavin, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, College of Law
    • Jason Hlady, Manager, Research Computing, Information and Communications Technology
    • Jill Hobbs, Professor, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
    • Justin Longo, Assistant Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
    • Philip Loring, Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability
    • Dena McMartin, Assistant Vice-President Research, Office of the Vice-President Research
    • Tammy Marche, Associate Dean, St. Thomas More College
    • Petros Papagerakis, Associate Dean Research, College of Dentistry
    • Ingrid Pickering, Acting Vice-Dean Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work, College of Arts and Science
    • Marek Radomski, Vice-Dean Research, College of Medicine
    • Elisabeth Snead, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
    • Ryan Walker, Acting Associate Dean, College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
    • Virginia Wilson, Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, University Library
    • Phil Woods, Associate Dean Research, Innovation and Global Initiatives, College of Nursing

SSRL Strategic Priorities Committee

The SSRL Strategic Priorities Committee provides strategic direction to SSRL operations, advising on areas of opportunity and potential growth that align with the SSRL’s mission of research support and capacity building. The SSRL Strategic Priorities Committee helps to identify and develop innovative research programming and training opportunities that align with college/school and institutional priorities.

Membership (as of April 30, 2018):


Day-to-day operations and administration of the SSRL are handled by a team of professional support staff.
(Staff names and positions are listed as of April 30, 2018.)

General Operations and Administration
Jason Disano, Director
Gloria Silbernagel, Finance and Administrative Assistant

Community-Based Observation Laboratory (COL) / Video Therapy Analysis Laboratory (ViTAL)
Marla Rogers, Mixed Methods Research Manager and Specialist

Experimental Decision Laboratory (EDL) / EEG Hyperscanning Laboratory (EHL)
Brianna Groot, Experimental Research Manager and Specialist

Qualitative Research Laboratory (QRL)
Rachel Tang, Qualitative Research Manager and Specialist

Survey and Group Analysis Laboratory (SGAL)
Jessica McCutcheon, Survey Research Manager and Specialist

Social Network Laboratory (SNL)
Ana-Maria Bogdan, Quantitative Research Manager and Specialist

The Spatial Laboratory (TSL)
Weiping (Winston) Zeng, GIS Research Manager and Specialist