A few thoughts about research participants

As a qualitative researcher most of my work involves speaking to people, asking them about their experiences, trying to understand what matters to them and then using this information to address the research questions that I have. Research participants are therefore central to such work, without them there would be no data, no new information and we would struggle to keep moving forwards with interpretations and understandings. Others have written about why people get involved in research and identify that a personal interest can be driving factor or people can seek or hope that research will bring about change or that they will be represented in some ways. It’s important that as researchers we think about the motivations of people participating in the research we do, but it’s also really important that we think about our appreciation of them doing so to.

From doing my PhD research, where I condcuted what were often long oral history interviews, I quickly learnt that research participants are often exceedingly generous to researchers, giving up time, offering hospitality and allowing you into personal aspects of their lives. This sense has only continued as I have moved into doing applied health research where I am often asking people about intimate or emotive topics. The generosity of research participants must be acknowledged, not just between the researcher and participant but more publically. So this post is a thank you to everyone who engages with and gives generously to enable our research to occur. Thank you for giving your time, for speaking up and for being willing to be open and invested in the idea that research can and should be a potential mechanism for change.



An update

There has been something of a radio silence here on the blog in the last few months, as other priorities have taken precedence, so I thought I would do a quick update post on what I have been working on and what’s been keeping me occupied before I try and get back into some more regular and topical posts.

Projects: I am lucky to be working on a number of great projects, including two evaluations of projects for young dads (NEYDL and YDC). I have also been piloting work about lifestyle and male fertility and have done a number of really fascinating interviews so far for this work, how that will develop is a work in progress. We also have data from our male fertility survey in partnership with Fertility Network UK that we will be analysing soon, again watch this space for more information about the findings from that exciting project. It was my first time using a qualitative questionnaire for that project so it will be interesting to reflect on that experience in due course.

Writing: I’m in the midst of writing my second book! To be published by Palgrave, Supporting Young Men as Fathers-Gendered Understandings of Group-Based Community Provisions, has been a joy to write and it will be exciting to get it out in the world in due course. I have also been working on a number of papers from our male infertility work and developing publications from other research projects so lots of writing has been happening.

Teaching: I am looking forward to getting back in the classroom at the start of team and working with Nutrition and Dietetics team at Leeds Beckett to deliever social science teaching to their students. Teaching sociology and applied health social science is a really interesting and enjoyable process and I will be developing new modules over the next year so I may post more about that too.


Men, lifestyle and fertility issues: Call for participants.

I am currently starting a small research project (a pilot) into understanding men’s experiences of lifestyle factors (things like diet, supplements, exercise, smoking, drinking etc) and fertility. There is currently not much evidence about lifestyle and fertility, particularly how men might change or modify the things they do/eat/take when trying to concieve. I am looking for a small number of men to take part in the research- more information about who can take part is below. If you, or someone you know may be interested in taking part then please get in touch (my contact details at the bottom of the post)


What is the purpose of the research?

The research is a pilot study to explore men’s experiences in relation to their perceptions about lifestyle factors (diet, exercise etc) in relation to fertility issues and whether men have made any changes to their own lifestyles whilst trying to conceive. We are looking to explore the experiences of men who have experienced fertility issues, either themselves through male factor fertility issues or within their relationships through female factor or unexplained fertility issues.  The research is open to any men aged 16+.

What does taking part involve?

Taking part involves being interviewed about your experiences. You will be asked some questions about lifestyle and fertility. The interview should take no more than an hour and can be conducted in person or over the telephone, at a date and time convenient to you. You will be given a £20 high street gift voucher as a thank you for participating in the interview.

What sort of questions will I be asked?

You will be asked questions about your views and experiences of lifestyle and fertility. We may ask you about your own lifestyle and practices as well as information you may have sought or received around lifestyle modification in the context of fertility issues.

What about confidentiality?

You will be asked if we can digitally record the interview so that we can accurately capture the information you provide. Anything that could be personal to you, such as your name, will be changed on transcription to protect your identity. Only members of the research team will have access to the transcripts and recording, and the information obtained will be used only for the purpose of this research. All information will be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act. What you say during the interview will be confidential, unless anything raised gives the researcher cause for concern about harm to you or to others.

What will happen to my contribution?

Your interview information will be considered and analysed alongside other interview data. We may use the findings to design a larger research project, including applying for funding for research, and may use the research to produce academic publications.

Can I withdraw from the research?

Taking part in the interview is voluntary. You can then withdraw from the research at any point and we will not include your views in the research. If you wish to withdraw from the project please contact the research team on the details below. The final date for withdrawing from the research is the 30th September 2017.

What happens now?

If you are willing to take part, the research team at Leeds Beckett University will arrange a time/date for the interview to take place.

Who is conducting and funding the research?

The research is being conducted by the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett University and is being supported by funds from Centre for Applied Social Research (CeASR) at Leeds Beckett University

Who has reviewed the study?

The research has been reviewed and approved through Leeds Beckett University Research Ethics procedures.  If you have a concern about any aspect of this research you should ask to speak to the researchers who will do their best to answer your questions. If you remain unhappy and wish to speak to someone independent from the study, you can do this through Dr Louise Warwick- Booth, School of Health and Community Studies, Leeds Beckett University (email: L.Warwick-Booth@leedsbeckett.ac.uk).

To take part or ask questions about the research please contact: 

Dr Esmée Hanna.

Centre for Health Promotion Research, Room 505 Calverley Building, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, LS1 3HE.

e.s.hanna@leedsbeckett.ac.uk  (0113) 812 5916

Survey: Men’s experiences of infertility

In partnership with Fertility Network UK today we are launching a new survey to find out the experiences and views of men who have been impacted by fertility issues.

The survey is available here and is open to all men aged 16 and over. We are conducting this research because little is known about how men understand, experience and cope with fertility issues. The responses we receive will be analysed and publicised to raise awareness of men’s needs about fertility. The survey involves completing a number of open questions- we have given people space to share their thoughts and views so that we can capture an indepth perspective of what matters to men.

The survey link provides more information about how to complete the survey and what taking part entails and how we will use the information. We are really keen to get as many men completing the survey as possible, so if you want to share the link or this post that would be much appreciated!

I will post more information about findings from this survey on the blog once the project is completed in the Autumn.

New Book: Supporting Young men as fathers

I’m delighted to announce that I am writing a new book for the Palgrave Pivot Series about young men who are fathers. The book is provisionally titled: ‘Supporting young men as fathers: Gendered understandings of community group based provisions’.

Drawing on research I have conducted with community groups for young dads, the book will explore the meaning and value of such groups, as well as the challenges and constraints of group support work. Whilst it is a book informed by research, and will be of interest to other academics doing research about young parents it will also have relevance to those working with young fathers in practice settings.

I will share more information about the book here on the blog in the future….

Infertility and its impact on relationships

My colleague and I have had a new paper on men’s experiences of infertility published yesterday in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology . The paper explores how men talk online about the impact of infertility on their relationships. Key findings from the research included, men using online spaces to discuss how to handle infertility, and particularly around things they felt they couldn’t discuss with their partners for fear of upsetting them. Men often felt that infertility treatments prioritised women’s feelings, and thus wasn’t equal to both parties in the relationship. Men gave each other advice about remaining close with their partners and not allowing the challenges of infertility to come between them and their partners, showing how stressful infertility can be for relationships. The paper lets us know a bit more about how men may feel about the impact of infertility. Infertility can create testing conditions for couples and being supportive, patient and loving of one another was viewed by men as key to ‘weathering the storm’ that infertility brought. It’s important that we know how men feel about infertility so that they can be supported in ways that are meaningful to them, such as ensuring counselling is available for couples, and that men and women have good information and advice about how best to manage the experiences they may be going through.

The full paper is available here

The Crossing

I was delighted to be invited to a private preview screening on ‘The Crossing’ at the weekend. The film, a 15 minute short, is written by Jack King and produced by Garry Paton of Finite Productions. ‘The Crossing’ tells the emotive story of one mans struggle with infertility. I wont give away plot or spoilers, but given my research interests around men’s experiences of infertility, I was fascinated to see how the topic could be captured and portrayed through film. The film itself is emotive and dramatic in terms of both the story, but also the cinematography and artistic direction.

I found the film’s capture of the ‘ordinary’ particularly powerful, the lead character could be a man you know, struggling with the desire to be a father and not being able to achieve it.  Whilst showing and sharing the challenges infertility brings to men’s lives in film is inevitably difficult, The Crossing is, in my view a necessary documentation of an often unspoken aspect of men’s intimate lives. Its the sort of short film which will stay with you, make you think, long after you have seen it. I hope that it may be the tool to start conversations about men’s experiences of infertility, or to make people think about the things they say to friends or family who may be struggling with getting pregnant.

Film is a powerful medium to convey important messages, hats off to Jack and Garry for tackling this important topic and for making something which is emotive, dramatic and thought provoking.

To find out more about the film, and future screenings you can follow the film on twitter here.