16 – 25 years old

information about participating in the project

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to learn more about this project. Below is information about the research and what doing this research would involve. I’d be grateful if you had a read through and a think about whether you would like to take part.

If you have any questions, visit the contact page and fill in the email form, which you can send anonymously if you like .  I’m happy to talk about any concerns you have!

Why am I doing this research? Why am I asking you to do this research?

My name is Jenny Speirs and I’m a postgraduate research student at Glasgow University. I am in the School for Social and Political Sciences and the Institute for Health and Wellbeing there. I am also a queer young person, and I’ve found the internet has had a big impact on my life and how I understand myself. You can find out more about me and the research I have done in the about the researcher section of the site.
This is a project for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, gender queer or otherwise questioning their sexuality or gender, although however you identify, if you read this information sheet and feel that this project is relevant to you, please get involved!

A lot of research about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people focuses on the struggles and inequalities many experience and the increased rates of mental health problems and other negative experiences among LGBTQ young people. These findings are very important and have spurred campaigns and changes in policies that affect all young people. However, it means that LGBTQ young people are often spoken of as vulnerable and passive. What’s missing from all of this is the voices and experiences of young people themselves…

This project begins with seeing LGBTQ young people as thoughtful members of society who are worth talking to and learning from. I hope that this research will learn about both the negative and the positive aspects of LGBTQ young people’s lives.
I’m interested in how LGBTQ young people understand themselves – their identities, their gender and sexualities.  I’d like to know how LGBTQ young people use the internet in their everyday lives and how this affects how they feel about themselves. I am interested in the relationships they have with different people in their lives, and what role these play in how they feel about themselves. I hope to hear positive experiences, negative experiences and everything in between.

Who is invited to take part?

If you are someone who is aged between 16 and 25 and identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, gender queer or otherwise questioning your sexuality or gender, then please consider getting involved!

Do I have to take part?

You absolutely do not have to take part. It is entirely optional. You can also withdraw at any point without giving any reason.

What will happen if I decide to take part?

There are different ‘levels of participation’ in this project. This means that you can be involved as much or as little as you are happy with. These levels are explained below:

Level 1. Online questionnaires

The online questionnaire allows you to take part as a one-off and it also means that you can be completely anonymous.

First of all, I’ll ask you to read through and tick that you consent to taking part in this research. This stage checks that you have read through and thought about everything, and that you’re happy to take part.

Next you will be asked some basic information about yourself. You won’t be asked to identify yourself at any point, this information is to get an idea about your background. Then you’ll be asked some open ended questions about things like the ways that you use the internet, your friendships and relationships, the places you get support.

You can write as much or as little as you like. Some people are better at explaining things with pictures, videos, by talking or with music. You can upload these things instead of (or as well as) writing something in the box.

You might want to have a look at the questions and think about if you want to answer any question with a photo, video, drawing, playlist, etc. and then come back and fill in the questionnaire later on.

Because you can write and upload as much or as little as you like, filling out the questionnaire will take different amounts of time for different people, but it should take on average about half an hour.

Level 2. Diaries

You will be asked to keep a diary (online or offline) for about a month. You can update your diary as often as you like, and can include whatever you want (and leave out anything you don’t want to share). There will be prompts in the diary, to give you some inspiration and encourage you to think about different topics (you can download these prompts at the bottom of this information page).

You can put whatever you like in your diary: you can write, draw, include photographs, videos, links, blog posts, music, etc. If there are any pages you do not want me to include in any publications, you can note this at the top of a page or an entry. After this month is up, I’ll ask you to return the diary to me (either by email or by post with a stamped/addressed envelope that I will supply you with).

Level 3. Online observations

The online observation is something that I would like to do to get a better idea of the everyday things that people do online, how people talk and how friendships, relationships and other connections between people work.

With your permission, I would like to follow your websites – such as facebook, twitter, tumblr, blogs, youtube, soundcloud, reddit, etc. etc. – in other words, the places where you have accounts and a presence online.This is done in a way that protects your confidentiality – so that other participants do not know that you are taking part – and none of your friends on these networks will know that you are participating in a research project (unless you choose to tell them).

I won’t interact with you or post anything to these spaces. Whilst I will take notes about these spaces, and may take pictures/’screen caps’ of them, these will be anonymised and treated as confidential. I will not quote or reprint these things in any publications without your express permission for each individual item.

This will happen for 1 month, at the same time as the diary. You can stop at any time, you can filter what I see if you like, and you are welcome to ‘delete’ me at any time from any or all of your networks.


With your permission, I would like to do a small period of observation (1 week long) between 4 and 6 months later. This is to see what changes there have been, to get an idea of how networks of people shift over time. You can say ‘no’ or let me access all or some of the networks as the first month, and you can ‘delete’ me at any time.
After this, I will delete the profile I used for the observation, which means that I won’t be able to access your networks again.

Level 4.  Interviews

There will be 2 interviews: at the start and at the end of the research. Both interviews will be on Skype, either as text/instant messaging only, telephone/voice only or video calls (this is up to you). If it’s okay with you, I will record and save these interviews (see below for how I will keep all of your data confidential). You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to and how much you share is completely up to you.

The first interview will take place at the start of the research at a time that suits you. We will start with some basic information so that I can get to know you a bit better and so that we can talk about the research ahead. The conversation will be open so that you can talk about what you think is relevant. Some themes that I would suggest are the ways you use the internet, your friendships and relationships, the places you get support.

You do not have to answer or discuss anything you don’t want to.

At the end of this interview, we will talk about the diary and the online observation, which I’ve talked about above. At the end of the month long diary and observation period, we’ll meet up again for a 2nd and final interview. We will talk about the diary, the experience of doing this. I might mention particular aspects of the diary and ask questions based on the diary.  We’ll also talk about things that came up during the online observation and perhaps discuss specific parts of this.

Will my taking part be kept confidential?

Confidentiality and anonymity are really importantto this research. You and all of your comments will be anonymised – this includes details that could identify you – such as where you live and other people’s names that you mention.

My notes from the interviews, the transcription and the diary will be kept in a locked filing cabinet in my (locked) office at the university. The audio recordings will be kept in a password protected folder on my office computer (that only I have access to) – which is also password protected. All of your information will be held in line with the Data Protection Act (there is a clear explanation about the Data Protection Act on the Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/data-protection/the-data-protection-act).

All information will be treated as confidential, unless I am very worried about your safety or the safety of other people, and then I will talk to you about whether other people need to know. I will only tell someone if I feel that it’s an emergency and I will talk to you about it first. In these cases, I will also talk to my supervisors, who are in charge of making sure I am taking proper care and doing things properly.

I might want to tell someone if:

I think your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger

If you are being hurt by someone who has a position of trust and works with other young people.

If you tell me that you’ve been hurting someone which makes me worry about their safety.


What will happen to the results of the research?

The results of this research will become the thesis that I write for my PhD. This is a lengthy piece of writing for the university, that explains how I did the research, the research that came before mine and my findings. It will be available for other researchers and students to read through the university. You are also welcome to have a copy of this. I also hope to share the results with others through conference papers and journal articles. These again will mostly be aimed at other academics and researchers, and those working in organisations that support young people.

I will write a more accessible, straight-forward report that is aimed at policy-makers and organisations that work with young people. This report will tell them about the research, the results and what this means for the services they offer and the laws they make. I hope this research will suggest ways that they can change their services to make LGBTQ young people’s lives better.

I want to share the results with the participants of the study in a couple of ways: through a report and a presentation, but also through a website compiling some of the experiences, images and words of the young people who made the study happen.It will be a way of sharing the research with both participants, other young people and policy makers and organisations. It will also be a ‘thank you’ and reminder of taking part in this important research.

For updates, you can check back to this site, where I will post findings, reports, thoughts and updates on the research.

Who has reviewed this study?

The College of Social Sciences Ethics Committee at Glasgow University has reviewed and approved the study. You can learn more about them and what is required for them to consider this research to be ethical at the following site: http://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/socialsciences/info/students/ethics/

You can also contact the College of Social Sciences Ethics Officer, John McKernan, with any concerns about how this research is being carried out or if you’d like more information about the Committee. His email address is: John.McKernan@glasgow.ac.uk

Thanks for taking the time to read this!


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