Answers to your questions

What is PULSAR for? Who can participate? What does PULSAR do with the data? We’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions and grouped them into seven categories.

  • General Questions
  • Contribute to research with PULSAR
  • Participating in a project carried out with PULSAR
  • Participating in the Sustainable Health Databank
  • Doing Research with PULSAR
  • Management of research data entrusted to PULSAR
  • Security and Privacy

Still have questions? Send them to us and we’ll be happy to answer them.

General Questions

Implemented by Université Laval and the Alliance santé Québec, the PULSAR platform accelerates research in sustainable health by connecting science and society through various research projects. 

Led by interdisciplinary scientific teams, these projects all have the same objective: to significantly and sustainably improve the health and well-being of the population.

To achieve this goal, scientists and research project participants have access to PULSAR's services and technological solutions, which aim to facilitate the sharing, management and valorization of research data in sustainable health.

PULSAR's solutions enable researchers to innovate and conduct health research differently. Thus, PULSAR's scientific partners:

  • Adhere to a sustainable vision of health and a scientific approach focused on collaboration and sharing (data, knowledge, expertise)
  • Implement interdisciplinary and/or intersectoral research projects
  • Involve citizens directly in research
  • Conduct projects that will generate concrete and rapid benefits for society
  • Adopt a data management approach based on the FAIR (Easily Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles
  • Have access to a large-scale technological infrastructure (ULaval Data Development Center), adapted services and state-of-the-art computer tools for data management and development.

To put it simply, sustainable health means having “a healthy mind in a healthy body, in a healthy community and natural environment, on a healthy planet.”

More specifically, sustainable health is a modern vision of health that goes far beyond conventional thinking. It encompasses all dimensions of an individual’s health and well-being, including their lifestyle, physical and psychological condition, socio-economic situation, family and work environment, community, neighborhood, the social, political and cultural context, etc.

These are some of the factors that can have an impact—positive or negative—on the health of individuals or an entire population. Joining PULSAR means embracing this vision of health for the benefit of current and future generations.

Visit the Sustainable Health page for more information.

Anyone age 13 and up who cares about their health and that of their family, their environment, and their community—and wants it to be sustainable.

All research projects carried out with PULSAR help to build a healthier, longer-lasting society. So, by contributing to research with PULSAR, you are helping scientists better understand why some people, communities and populations do well and others do poorly.

By becoming a PULSAR member, you have access to quality content and reliable information on sustainable health. In addition, by participating in research projects, you gain access to:

  • A member's area and a personalized participant's file
  • Registration forms for current research projects
  • The status of the projects and the research results
  • The possibility of obtaining information about your own health (depending on the research project in which you have participated).

Joining PULSAR is also and above all the starting point of a beautiful collaboration for the advancement of science and the improvement of the health and well-being of the population!

Depending on your needs, your collaboration with PULSAR can take many forms. Whether it’s a strategic partnership (sharing expertise and resources for the benefit of the participating parties), sharing best practices or visibility, or a financial support arrangement, PULSAR is always looking for ways to collaborate. Interested? Contact us so we can talk about it!

PULSAR is a joint initiative developed by Université Laval, Alliance santé Québec, and their extensive network of researchers. It also works with other stakeholders:

  • Ville de Québec
  • Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS)
  • Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec (MSSS)
  • Institut national de la santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)
  • Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS)
  • Québec International
  • Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale (CIUSSS-CN)
  • Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Chaudière-Appalaches (CISSS-CA)
  • Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec-Université Laval (CHU)
  • The Quebec Heart and Lung Institute
  • Unité mixte de recherche en sciences urbaines (UMRsu)
  • Institut national d’optique (INO)
  • Centraide
  • The Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake

If you’re not on the list but would like to be, we’d be delighted to have you! Contact us to discuss the options.

PULSAR is currently supported by Université Laval, La Fondation de l'Université Laval, the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec.

Contribute to research with PULSAR

Anyone interested in taking part in a project carried out with PULSAR may do so. Participation is on a free and voluntary basis. However, participants are selected for each research project according to criteria established by the project team. 

Want to learn more or register for a research project with PULSAR? Consult the list of projects in recruitment!

First we recommend that you click on the project that interests you in the project list. This will give you a brief description of the project, a link to the project website (if there is one), and contact details for the project team. Once you’ve gotten the information you’re looking for, please contact the project team directly using the contact information or the contact form provided in the “Contact the Project Team” section of the project presentation page.

Your degree of involvement will vary from project to project. For instance, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire, provide biological samples, or participate in interviews with members of the research team.

But before you begin, it’s important to be informed. The project team will ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision when you agree to participate in a project. 

Once you have all the information and are ready to proceed, you’ll need to give your consent (in writing, verbally, or electronically) to participate in the project. The project team may also offer you the opportunity to consent to have the data collected on you deposited in the PULSAR Sustainable Health Databank.

For more information on participating in a project, take a few minutes to watch our video

Your participation in a project carried out with PULSAR will help researchers better understand why certain individuals, communities, and populations are healthy, and others less so. 

So by participating, you'll be advancing health science and research, and helping to improve the well-being of yourself, your loved ones and your community. Nothing less!

Of course! Depending on the project, you may:

  • Have access to your individual results from the project, i.e., personalized information on your health status
  • Be compensated financially or otherwise (e.g., prize for participating)

You’ll also have access to the results of the projects you take part in as well as plain-language explanations of their impact on the ground.

PULSAR strongly encourages project teams to give project participants access to their results. However, it’s up to the leaders of each project to determine whether and how the results will be shared with participants.

For details on the information the project team has agreed to share with you regarding your results, refer to your project consent information accessible in your participant file via your Member's Area, or to the copy of your consent that was sent to you by the project team when you registered.

The factors that determine health are myriad and complex! The only way for PULSAR to help sustainably improve population health is to study these factors from every angle, with the help of as many people and as much data as possible.

By participating in the research carried out with PULSAR,

  • You will have a more active role in the care of your health, the health of your loved ones and your community
  • You will also advance science through the research data that will be collected and analyzed by the projects and, with your consent, shared ethically and securely in the PULSAR Sustainable Health Databank (see the section of the FAQ entitled "Participating in the Sustainable Health Databank")
  • And you will be promoting better public health policies and interventions through the new knowledge generated by the projects.

Visit the Participate in a project with PULSAR page to learn more.

Participating in a project carried out with PULSAR

First we suggest reviewing your project consent information, which includes an explanation of what your participation and involvement entails. 

If you registered for the project with a PULSAR account, this consent form is accessible in your participant file via your Member's Area. You can also consult the copy of your consent that was sent to you by the project team when you registered, or the project website if applicable.

Still have questions? Contact the project team directly using the contact form on the project page (“My Projects” section) of your dashboard. A member of the project team will get in touch with you shortly.

If you registered for the project with a PULSAR account, the project consent form(s) can be viewed online in your PULSAR Member Area, in the "My Consents" section of your participant file. Once logged into your participant file, simply click on the "View" button to see the consent form of your choice on screen.

In your PULSAR Member Area, select the project associated with the questionnaires you want to answer. Then click the “Go to questionnaires” button. The questionnaires to be completed will open in a new browser window.

If you wish to change your first or last name, email address, or date of birth, you must submit a request to the PULSAR team.

For any other changes, you must update your information for each project you participate in. There are two options for doing this:

  • If you registered for the project with a PULSAR account, you can change your information online in your participant file yourself. To do so, log in to your participant file in your Member Area, then click on the "Update my info" button located under your personal information provided to the project. A new page allowing you to modify and save the personal information of your choice will then open on the screen.
  • Otherwise, contact the project team directly by writing to the email provided in the "Contact the Project Team" section at the bottom of your participant file.

You can stop your participation in a project carried out with PULSAR at any time.

To submit a change request, please use the form or contact information on the project page (“My Projects” section) in your dashboard.

There are two options for doing this:

  • If you registered for the project with a PULSAR account, you can withdraw online from your participant file yourself. To do so, log in to your participant file in your Member Area, then click on the "Stop my participation" button at the top of the page. A new page allowing you to register your withdrawal will then open on the screen.
  • Otherwise, contact the project team directly by writing to the email provided in the "Contact the Project Team" section at the bottom of your participant file.

Participating in the Sustainable Health Databank

To study health and well-being from every angle, PULSAR is building a Sustainable Health Databank. It is a compilation of the data collected by various research projects carried out with PULSAR. Only data from participants who have given their consent will be included in the Sustainable Health Databank.

The databank is an institutional resource administered and secured by Université Laval. It is strictly managed under the Sustainable Health Databank Management Framework (in French only) and subject to the legal framework currently in force in Québec and across Canada. It currently contains data only and no biological material.

Watch our video to learn more.

Anyone who participates in a project carried out with PULSAR, is at least 18 years old, and is a resident of Canada is eligible to participate in the Sustainable Health Databank.

By participating in the Sustainable Health Databank, you make your research data available not only to the project in which you are participating, but also to all current and future projects carried out with PULSAR. 

It is an opportunity to extend the reach and impact of your participation beyond the project you are participating in—because the health and well-being of people today is just as important as that of future generations.

No. Participation in the Sustainable Health Databank is free and voluntary. Only projects carried out with PULSAR give you the opportunity to share your data with the databank. Any project team that invites you to participate in the databank is required to answer all your questions to help you decide whether or not you wish to participate in the databank.

You can also watch our video or contact the PULSAR team if you have questions.

By agreeing to participate in the Sustainable Health Databank, you make your research data available not only to the project in which you are participating, but also to all current and future projects carried out with PULSAR.

Since it is impossible to know in advance what all these projects may be, it is also impossible know exactly how your data may be used by these projects. For example, some projects may use your data as is, others may want to cross-reference it with other environmental or health administrative data.

However, we do know that since all these projects will be part of the PULSAR research programming, they will be focused on the determinants of well-being and be subject to ethical approval to that effect.
That means that the project team will only have access to data that is necessary, justified, and authorized by the ethical approval process, and that the authorizations you granted in your consent to participate in the databank will be taken into account.

No. If you consented to have your research data included in the Sustainable Health Databank, it will never be used for commercial purposes.

Depending on the project you are participating in and whether it contributes to the Sustainable Health Databank, you can register your consent in one of two ways:

  • By consulting the "Participation in the Sustainable Health Databank" consent form available online in your Member's Area, in the "My Consents" section of your participant record. Simply click on the "View" button to display the form on your screen. If your consent status is active, it means that you have agreed to participate in the Sustainable Health Databank.
  • By consulting the consent form in PDF format that you downloaded when you registered for the project.

If you are not able to do this yourself or if you are unsure, please send a request to the PULSAR team and they will verify it for you.

The current and previous versions of the Sustainable Health Data Bank Consent Form can be viewed here (Appendix 7 of the Sustainable Health Databank Management Framework).

You can ask to end your participation in the Sustainable Health Databank at any time. To stop participating, you must submit a request to that effect to the PULSAR team. Withdrawing your participation will result in the complete removal of all your research data from the databank. 

Doing Research with PULSAR

In order to use PULSAR, projects must:

  1. Examine one or more dimensions of health and contribute to the development of sustainable health research
  2. Adhere to PULSAR’s vision and values
  3. Subscribe to PULSAR’s scientific approach
  4. Be peer reviewed and subject to ethical approval by a recognized ethics committee
  5. Be selected to be part of PULSAR’s annual research programming

Once registered with PULSAR, you can suggest or carry out a project with PULSAR if:

  • You hold an academic position at a Canadian university and are qualified to conduct research as a principal investigator
  • You’re a master’s or PhD student, or a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of a researcher holding a position at a Canadian university
  • You are conducting research activities or are likely to use the knowledge generated by the research to decide on policies, programs, or practices in a non-profit corporation or a Canadian federal or provincial department, body, or agency.

Please note that the project management team (lead and co-lead[s]) must include at least one researcher from Université Laval.

You meet one or more of these conditions and wish to propose a project? Fill out our project submission form now.

Even if your profile does not meet the above criteria, we are interested in hearing your project ideas! To do so, please use the form provided.

There are many advantages to doing research with PULSAR:

  • Technological: Reliable, highly secure facilities
  • IT: Data collection and analysis tools, digital space for participants
  • Administrative: Integrated tools and services, giving you more time to focus on your research
  • Scientific: Increased outreach, contribution to sustainable health, opportunities for collaboration
  • Social and human: Knowledge sharing and transfer within the PULSAR network, improved population well-being

To learn more, visit our Doing Research with PULSAR and Our Scientific Approach pages.

PULSAR offers a range of innovative services and tools to help with all research activities for projects included in its research programming. Some of these services are free, others are paid.

For more information, see PULSAR’s services.

There is no deadline for submitting a project; the eligibility of research projects is assessed by the scientific committee on an ongoing basis.

In addition, the PULSAR scientific committee meets at the beginning of each year (January) and again mid-year (July) to prioritize and select eligible projects that will be carried out with PULSAR throughout the current year. Projects must be submitted by December 31 for the programming established in January, and by June 30 for the programming review that takes place in July.

PULSAR draws on the expertise of its scientific committee to evaluate and select the projects to be included in its research programming. From evaluating projects to releasing its annual review of research programming, PULSAR strives to be methodical and transparent in everything it does.

Each project proposal submitted to PULSAR is evaluated according to a set of criteria (see next question in the FAQ) defined by the PULSAR scientific committee. This committee selects, on a bi-annual basis, the projects that will be integrated into the research program. At the beginning of each year (January), the committee meets to establish the programming of projects submitted by December 31 of the previous year, while at mid-year (July), the committee meets to establish the programming of projects submitted by June 30 of the same year.

Each project included in the research program must send PULSAR, on a quarterly basis, a short report as a follow-up to measure the respect of the project's objectives, deadlines and budget. Finally, the reports submitted during the year will be used to produce an annual report on the programming that is produced by the PULSAR team. This report will be communicated in due course on the PULSAR website.

For more information on how PULSAR manages its research programming, please see the Sustainable Health Databank Management Framework.

The eligibility of the projects proposed to PULSAR is evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • The project is in line with PULSAR's scientific approach to sustainable health by adding to the Sustainable Health Databank or by encouraging the sharing of knowledge and/or expertise.
  • The project requires cooperation between different actors. It involves an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research team, promotes the establishment of new partnerships or encourages the involvement of stakeholders, and demonstrates citizen and/or patient inclusiveness.
  • The project is presented in a clear and convincing manner by using a summary, a research protocol or a document accompanying a funding application.

Please note that these criteria are expected to evolve over the coming years and that a project need not meet all of the above criteria to be included in the programming.

The main steps to carry out a project with PULSAR are as follows:

  1. Submission of Project Proposal
    1. In submitting a project, please use the form provided.
    2. A member of the PULSAR team will contact the project leader to complete the information necessary to evaluate the project.
    3. Please refer to the questions in this section to learn more about the submission criteria and selection process for projects in the PULSAR research programming.
  2. Project Evaluation by the PULSAR Scientific Committee
    1. Following the decision of the PULSAR scientific committee, the committee will communicate with the project leader to confirm or deny the selection of the project in the PULSAR research programming within a few weeks of the committee's decision.
    2. Please refer to the questions in this section to learn more about the selection of projects in the research program.
  3. Acceptance of Project
    1. Confirmation of the use of PULSAR services
    2. Signing of PULSAR agreements that govern access and use of data
    3. Confirmation of the ethical approval of the project
    4. Preparation of the integrated research environment (e.g. creation of databases, participant registration form, granting of access, etc.)
  4. Research Activities Carried Out by the Project Team
    1. Throughout the research activities, PULSAR will provides support and guidance as needed.
    2. The project team provides PULSAR with reports in order to monitor its activities.
  5. End of the project
    1. Archiving of project as planned by the project’s conservation methods
    2. The project sends a final report to PULSAR.

Because of the proximity and trust established with the participants, the primary contact remains the project team that recruited the participant. The PULSAR team prefers not take the place of the projects in offering support to participants.

The project teams are trained and have the necessary information to deal with the various problems/atypical cases that may arise when using the PULSAR platform and participating in the Sustainable Health Databank.

In the event that the project team is unable to respond to a participant's request, the participant may be referred to the PULSAR team as an alternative.

Management of research data entrusted to PULSAR

All data entrusted to PULSAR is maintained in highly secure information assets owned, managed and installed in Université Laval’s technological environment.

To be able to study health in all its dimensions, the teams that do research with PULSAR collect, process, cross-reference, and exploit data from multiple sources. This data can come from a project carried out with PULSAR as well as from the Données Québec open data portal, various government departments and agencies (federal and provincial), municipalities, etc.

While the data may have originally been collected for different reasons, with PULSAR, it can now be compiled together to reveal new correlations and new knowledge that may lead to new discoveries.

Research data collected on you will be used for research purposes only (usually, to answer the research question and pursue the research objectives of the project you are participating in). The project team is required to give you this information when you consent to participate in the project.

If you have also consented to have your research data included in the Sustainable Health Databank, it will be used only to support PULSAR’s research objectives with regard to sustainable individual and population health and well-being.

For more information on this topic, please see the FAQ section entitled "Participating in the Sustainable Health Databank", or the page on our site dedicated to the bank.

It varies from project to project, depending on the specific terms and conditions of the project carried out with PULSAR. The project team will provide you with details on the data retention period when you consent to participate in the project.

However, if you have also consented to have your research data included in the Sustainable Health Databank, it will be kept indefinitely, unless otherwise specified on your death.

Security and Privacy

All data entrusted to PULSAR will be processed and protected in an ethical and secure manner, in full compliance with the laws of Québec and Canada, and in accordance with Université Laval’s information security guidelines and policies.

Given the sensitivity of the personal information provided to PULSAR, strict security measures will be implemented, both in terms of technological solutions used to protect it and the individuals who have access to it.

PULSAR undertakes to implement relevant and applicable information security measures and best practices, as defined by the ISO-27002:2013 international standard on information systems security.

The type of security measures used varies based on the: 

  • Sensitivity of the personal information collected 
  • Quantity, distribution, and format of the data
  • Data storage method used 

Even greater care is taken to protect more sensitive information. 

The protection methods selected include physical methods such as locking doors, administrative measures such as an access control process, and technical measures such as password use and encryption.

These security measures protect personal information against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use, or modification, regardless of the form in which the information is held.

All personal information entrusted to PULSAR through the projects will be de-identified to ensure confidentiality. As such, all your personal identifying information (e.g., first and last name, address, phone number, etc.) will be stored separately from other data collected during the project (e.g., data collected in questionnaires, physical examinations, etc.).

In scientific publications produced by the projects and reports issued under PULSAR’s sustainable health research programming, results will always be presented in aggregate form, making it impossible to identify participants.

The data can only be used by the researchers involved in the research project you are participating in. They are supervised by the project’s lead researcher and are required to use your data in full compliance with the laws and ethical and privacy rules in force in Québec and across Canada, and with the information security policies in effect at Université Laval. 

In the event that the researcher(s) in charge of the project wish to give access to your data to third parties who are not part of the research team, they are required to notify you at the outset as part of the terms of conditions governing your participation in the project. Your data will therefore be used only for the purposes indicated for which you have given your consent as part of the project.

Finally, it is important to mention that the people working on a research project are required to use the data in full compliance with the laws and ethical and privacy rules in effect in Quebec and Canada, and in accordance with Université Laval’s information security guidelines and policies.

If you participate in a project, a limited number of people on the project team will have access to your personal identifying data. The project consent information will explain who will access to your information (e.g., research supervisor, co-investigator, research assistant, etc.) and why. 

It is also possible that some members of the PULSAR team may access your personal identifying information in the following cases: 

  • If you are a PULSAR member: to help you use the services available on the PULSAR website
  • If you participate in a project carried out with PULSAR: to support the projects in the management of the data collected and used in this project
  • If you are participating in the Sustainable Health Databank: to support you in your participation and to conduct data-matching as required by a PULSAR project that has received ethical approval for this purpose.

Université Laval ensures that PULSAR team members with access to personal identifying information have received information security training and have previously signed a confidentiality agreement.