Adama Ouédraogo, PHD Student at INED in 2017-2020
What path brought you to INED?
Before being awarded a PhD work contract at INED, I earned a Master’s in macroeconomics and development management in Burkina Faso. I then switched my specialization to demography, and in 2013 enrolled at Ouagadougo University’s Higher Institute for Population Science to do a Master’s in population science research. It was there that I discovered INED, notably through scientific publications by INED researchers.
After earning my second Master’s I decided to train more fully in quantitative analysis so I could do a thesis in demography. At that juncture I was awarded an Excellence scholarship to come study in France, where I took Master’s-level applied mathematics and social science courses at the University of Aix-Marseilles, with a specialization in population analysis. It was during this training period that I developed my thesis project, which was later funded by INED.
What was it like for you doing your doctorate at INED?
Doctoral students are given an office and computers equipped with a wide range of data analysis programs. The open-space offices make it easy to make contact and engage with other PhD students. And the work environment is quite comfortable due to such services as the INED canteen, documentation center, and others.
Practically speaking, doctoral students can join one or more research units in order to work on their thesis. They work autonomously yet under supervision, and take part in research and training activities of many sorts (research and other projects, meetings, research presentation days, Les Lundis de l’INED, and other seminars). These various activities help them construct solid dissertation work experience that prepares them to take on the post-doctoral and early research career periods. One such activity is the monthly PhD workshop, where doctoral students explain how their work is advancing and take short training courses on varied subjects like writing and submitting a scientific article, how to do successful fieldwork, etc.
INED has a special doctoral affairs group headed by an Institute researcher with an assistant. This section is the tie between PhD students, their supervisors, and the Director’s Office. It is in charge of annual assessments of doctoral students and their working conditions, and also responds to student needs.
What would you say is specific about INED?
As I see it, INED’s main specificity as an institution that hosts and funds doctoral students is its position as an “international meeting place” for demography researchers. Being a PhD student at INED means being in contact with researchers from all geographic horizons working on multidisciplinary themes and topic areas. Thanks to its international position, INED can initiate innovative research projects well adapted to society’s needs and venture into and investigate new research areas. Doing a thesis in such a context offers a real opportunity for developing a full professional network.
Another important specificity at INED is the strong solidarity between doctoral students. Thesis work and completion are a real struggle, an undertaking with both highs and lows. To ease that struggle, INED doctoral students organize all sorts of activities (gatherings, outings, informal parties, games, etc.)—opportunities to ease stress, share information, and/or resolve occasional problems.
How did doing your doctorate at INED help you in connection with your current professional situation?
It was thanks to a fellow PhD student at INED that I was able to apply for a temporary teaching opening at the University of Paris I as early as my first year in the PhD program. That experience helped me obtain the ATER position [Temporary teaching-research adjunct position for PhD students] that I have now. Being a PhD student on contract at INED was one “bridge” to the ATER job. And doing my thesis at INED provided me with crucial tools not only for applying for the job but also carrying out my teaching tasks correctly.
Do you still work with INED researchers?
Absolutely. I have plans to public scientific papers with INED researchers, including my dissertation supervisors. I’m also trying to obtain a post-doctoral research grant, for which my collaborative ties with INED researchers will be very helpful. And I’ve kept up my ties with the INED research units I did my thesis in.
(Interview conducted in July 2021)