Magda Tomasini

INED’s director presents the Institute’s strategic orientations to 2025.

(Interview conducted in May 2021)

What are the main topic areas that will structure INED research in the next five years?

INED’s scientific work during the 2021-2025 period will focus on five main areas. The first is crises and how they interact with demographic phenomena, with particular attention to the issue of relations between population and the environment.
The second is methods of observation and analysis. We will continue to emphasize surveys and to increase our use of new types of data; other key concerns are a critical approach to data and analytic categories, and historical research.
The three other topic areas—“Leading one’s life: choices, opportunities, and constraints at different phases in the life cycle”; “Population health: does progress equally benefit all?”; and “Space, mobility, migration: individual trajectories and public policies”—call to mind the three fundamental factors of demographic dynamics, which will also be considerably renewed. 
Certain approaches, such as international comparison and taking gender into account, cut across all of our research projects, as does analysis of inequality in every form—a fundamental feature of research at INED.

Open science is also a key component of these orientations. How does the Institute plan to further develop its policy in this area?

INED has long been favorable to open science, and we have acted on this position by making survey data widely available and putting scientific publications on open access. We intend to pursue this commitment, working to make INED research findings still more cumulative, transparent, and universally accessible. INED studies focus on social issues, many of which are central to public debates. It is therefore essential to extend knowledge access, to play an active role in diffusing it from academic spheres to civil society, public policymakers and citizens generally. We plan to further widen access to INED publications and the data used in them, as well as to explore new editorial processes. In order to make major demographic databases and survey data available, INED set up a DataLab in 2019, and we have just put a dedicated website on line, thereby giving greater visibility to INED data. Data description will be optimized, and we will be inventorying all survey data that has not yet been made accessible. In the meantime we will continue to develop ArchINED, our open archive. 
INED is already enrolled in France’s national open science plan (PNSO), and thanks to our characteristic interdisciplinary approach and the specificities of the social sciences we will be able to develop our own Open Science Plan. 

In recent years INED has positioned itself as a network leader. As you see it, how will the Institute be pursuing its role of organizing, running, diffusing, and promoting French population science research?

Yes, we’ve made that position a reality! INED runs a Laboratory of Excellence and two “Technical equipment of Excellence” systems; it is a partner in three graduate research departments and belongs to the Institut Convergences. We work with the greatest research and higher learning institutions in Europe and throughout the world, and are engaged in a multitude of research projects; we also participate in most wide-ranging European initiatives in the field of population science. During the 2021-2025 period we will be continuing to fulfill all these fundamental research organization and operation roles, thanks in part to our many partnerships as well as our involvement in training researchers through research and in Master’s-level and other graduate school training programs, and our work hosting and mentoring PhD students and granting postdoctoral contracts to early career researchers. We plan to bolster our tracking of early career researchers’ professional integration and to support researchers in obtaining the national qualification to supervise research. 
Furthermore, INED’s expertise in survey methodologies and statistics processing give it a major role to play in sharing statistical analysis methodology and survey methods and in social science experimentation with Big Data and health data. The process of making data usable to researchers needs to be speeded up, and INED’s survey catalogue will be renewed in conjunction with the Quetelet-PROJEDO Diffusion consortium. 
Lastly, INED’s presence on the Aubervilliers site will make it easier for the Institute along with all Campus Condorcet members to contribute to scientific life on campus.

What is INED’s international strategy for the coming five years?

INED researchers are already heavily invested in international networks and working in close collaboration with researchers throughout the world. During the next five years we plan to further encourage and facilitate the international mobility of our own researchers and the reception of researchers from abroad; also to improve the visibility of INED job openings by more effectively relaying them to the international scientific community. We are also hoping to host the European Doctoral School of Demography (EDSD) at Campus Condorcet from the start of the 2023 academic year; INED has been a partner of the School since it was founded. 
Last, to enhance our renown and influence throughout the world we plan to further develop international diffusion of INED publications, especially by making a greater number of books available in English. And we will be setting up new partnerships, particularly in connection with calls for proposals for European and international projects.

Will the development of ties between science and society continue to be a key Institute objective?

Absolutely. In fact, diffusing scientific culture and population science knowledge beyond the academic sphere has always been a main mission at INED. And the findings of INED research studies are regularly used to combat disinformation and improve understanding of society. We plan to strengthen ties between population sciences and society in three ways: informing public debate on major social issues, developing scientific culture and combating innumeracy, and creating conditions for conversation with the non-academic world. 
Our plans include developing teaching aids on how research projects are designed and carried out, including how data are collected and processed; forming partnerships with professional scientific mediators; making research findings still more visible and accessible to public decision makers; and opening up more of our seminars and conferences to non-academic actors. INED will also continue to develop citizen science actions based on partnerships with local associations and actors. 

How will the Institute itself be changing to respond to these new concerns?

These new strategic orientations are ambitious; they are a response to genuine social issues. To achieve them, a new Goals and Performance contract is being drawn up, and we are in discussion with INED’s two overseeing ministries [Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Ministry of Employment and Solidarity] to identify the resources needed. Moreover, the many support activities that accompany all phases of INED research are to be reinforced. This will involve modernizing, simplifying, and sharing management tools and procedures; digital adaptation and a system for monitoring new technological developments; and enhancing our internal communication. Last, during the 2021-2025 period, INED will be launching a transversal Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) monitoring system to measure the impact of all the activities by means of which the Institute fulfills its missions.