PhD research

Participant information:

UK Commuter Students digital access and use for university and beyond

I am a PhD student at Lancaster University and I would like to invite you to take part in a research study about the digital experience of commuter students. I have written about my interest in students who are commuting to their local universities here.

Please take time to read the following information carefully before you decide whether or not you wish to take part.

What is the study about?

This study aims to identify the challenges and successes of commuter students and their experience of digital technology in their day to day lives.  It will provide insights into the real use of technology for academic purposes and will highlight what works and what does not work which will help to inform policy and practice in higher education institutions.  

Why have I been invited?

I would be very grateful if you would agree to take part in this study.

I have approached you as you have been identified as a commuter student, defined as living in your family home and attending your local university.

What will I be asked to do if I take part?

If you decided to take part, this would involve the following:

You will be asked to keep a multimedia diary (video, audio or both) for up to one week.  There will be an informal conversation for about 30 minutes to 1 hour online, at a time to suit you where we can discuss your digital experiences of being a student and a review of the media you have produced.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

Your insights will contribute to our understanding of the impact of online learning for your particular situation and other commuter students generally.  It will impact on how we provide support to our students.

Do I have to take part?

No. It’s completely up to you to decide whether or not you take part. Your participation is voluntary.

If you decide not to take part in this study, this will not affect your studies and the way you are assessed on your course.

What if I change my mind?

If you change your mind, you are free to withdraw at any time before the analysis of the data has begun.  Please let me know as soon as possible after your interview (within 2 weeks)  and I will extract and destroy any ideas or information you contributed to the study if you contact me within two weeks.

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

There are no risks involved in this study.    

Will my data be identifiable?

After the interview, the ideas from the study may be identifiable only.  All personally identifiable information will not be available to anyone other than me and my supervisor.

I will keep all personal information about you (e.g. your name and other information about you that can identify you) confidential, that is I will not share it with others. I will remove any personal information from the written record of your contribution.  All names will be changed to pseudonyms within the study.

How will we use the information you have shared with us and what will happen to the results of the research study?

I will use the information you have shared with me only in the following ways:

I will use it for research purposes only. This will include my PhD thesis and other publications such as journal articles.  I may also present the results of my study at academic conferences.

When writing up the findings from this study, I would like to reproduce some of the views and ideas you shared with me. I will only use anonymised quotes (e.g. from my interview with you) so that although I will use your exact words, you cannot be identified in our publications.

How my data will be stored Your data will be stored in encrypted files (that is no one other than me, the researcher will be able to access them) and on password-protected computers. I will store hard copies of any data securely in locked cabinets in my office. I will keep data that can identify you separately from non-personal information (e.g. your views on a specific topic).In accordance with University guidelines, I will keep the data securely for a minimum of ten years.

What if I have a question or concern?

If you have any queries or if you are unhappy with anything that happens concerning your participation in the study, please contact me, Fiona Harvey or my supervisor:

Dr Jan McArthur

Department Educational Research

Lancaster University


If you have any concerns or complaints that you wish to discuss with a person who is not directly involved in the research, you can also contact:

Professor Paul Ashwin

Head of Department

Educational Research


This study has been reviewed and approved by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Lancaster Management School’s Research Ethics Committee.

Thank you for considering your participation in this project.