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Diary method is a relatively 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 face to face 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 ask 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


11.00 – 11.30

, coffee and networking

11.30 – 11.35

SRHE welcome and housekeeping

11.35 – 13.00

 Introduction to the session, introduction to diary method, practical considerations of diary design (including group discussion task)

13.00 – 13.45


13.45 – 15.00

Challenges of diary method, reflection activity

15.00 – 15.15

Closing comments


Introductory reading on diary method:

  • Hyers, L. L. (2018). Diary methods. Oxford University Press.
  • Bartlett, R., & Milligan, C. (2020). Diary method: Research methods. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Cao, X., & Henderson, E. F. (Eds.). (2021). Exploring diary methods in higher education research: Opportunities, choices and challenges. Routledge.
  • More resources here including video resources:

Facilitator Bios

Dr Emily F. Henderson (@EmilyFrascatore) is a Reader in the Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick and Director of DEAR – Doctoral Education and Academia Research Centre. She is co-editor of Exploring Diary Methods in Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2021). She has used diary method in projects on conference participation for academics with caring responsibilities and on the role of the supervisor in doctoral admissions, and is currently working on a diary study on the role of faculty members in higher education outreach in India. She also supervises doctoral students using diary method. She is founder of Diary Method Community.

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.

Dr Ahmad Akkad (@AhmadAkkad_) is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Education Department at the University of Oxford. He has used diary method in his doctoral project on the role of displaced academics in post-conflict reconstruction, and also in a research project on the role of the supervisor in doctoral admissions. He is a Co-Convenor of the Diary Method Community.



February 2nd, 2024 from 11:00 AM to  3:15 PM
Society House, Regents Wharf
8 All Saints Street
London, N1 9RL
United Kingdom
Event Fee(s)
Event Fee(s)
Member Price £0.00
Guest Price £75.00
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