Diary method is an under-used research technique in social sciences research (in particular in education research), but it has huge potential to gather data that other more common techniques may struggle to achieve. For instance, diary method can help us to understand phenomena which: occur over time, unfold at the micro level, and which are difficult to talk about e.g. in an interview. The diary method is also a versatile method which can be used across different epistemologies and research approaches.
Despite its usefulness and flexibility in social research, there is a recognised dearth of training opportunities to learn about and develop expertise in diary method. This session aims to plug this gap by providing both an introduction to diary method for newcomers to this method, and a space for those who are already using this to share experiences and questions, through the use of informative content and interactive elements. The studies used as examples in the session will focus on the use of solicited diary methods (those that use specially designed diaries for the purposes of research) in higher education research sites, but the session as a whole is applicable for researchers working in any area of social research.
The session will be of use to new and established researchers. Those who are in the early stages of planning a project (including a doctoral study) would benefit from the session, but there will also be opportunities for participants to bring questions and ideas from ongoing or past research projects using diary method.
The aims of this session are as follows:
- To introduce solicited diary method and the key aspects of this method
- To illustrate the use of diary method by presenting on projects that have used this in different ways
- To explore practical considerations of diary method in social research
- To consider the challenges of diary method and how to address these
- To open a space for dialogue and discussion about diary method
Introductory reading on diary method
- Lauri L. Hyers, Diary Methods: Understanding Qualitative Research
- Ruth Bartlett and Christine Milligan, Diary Method: Research Methods
- Exploring Diary Methods in Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2021)
- More resources here: https://diarymethodcommunity.wordpress.com/
Dr Emily F. Henderson (@EmilyFrascatore) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick. She is co-editor of Exploring Diary Methods in Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2021). She has used diary method in ‘In Two Places at Once’, a project on conference participation for academics with caring responsibilities, and is currently using diary method in another project on the role of the supervisor in doctoral admissions.
Dr Zoe Baker (@zs_baker) is a Research Fellow in the Department of Education, University of York. Zoe has used diary methods for a number of years to explore narrative accounts of higher education transitions and inequalities. In her prior doctoral research, she used paper and audio diary methods to capture the higher education decision-making and choices of socioeconomically underrepresented students in England (see Baker, 2021). Currently, she employs online diary methods in her British Academy funded research on care-experienced students’ graduate transitions.
Ahmad Akkad (@AhmadAkkad_) is a Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick, and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has used diary method in his doctoral project on the role of displaced academics in post-conflict reconstruction, and he is currently involved as Research Assistant in another project with Dr Emily Henderson and Dr James Burford on the role of the supervisor in doctoral admissions.