Project Information

Project Title: The self, selfies and the performance of health in young people

You are invited to participate in a research study being conducted by Linda Marsden, a PhD candidate within the Institute for Culture and Society, under the supervision of Associate Professor Amanda Third. The research will consider if, and how, young people’s (aged 15 – 24 years) health is expressed, documented, performed or reflected upon in the practice of taking, editing, sharing and responding to selfies.

How is the study being paid for?

Western Sydney University is funding this project via candidate support funds and the student is supported by a scholarship through the Centre for Research Excellence in Adolescent Health.

What will I be asked to do?

You will be invited to participate in up to two three-hour workshops, with up to 5 other persons of a similar age. The workshops will be held in a location within your community (for example, at a school, university, sporting club, library). During the first workshop, everyone will complete an activity themed around ethical research to develop some guidelines for the subsequent activities and an activity that helps us define some of the terms we will use in the activities. The whole workshop will be themed around health, identity, and social media. You will get to choose the activities you would like to complete, and they will include things like:

  • Drawing and writing
  • Mapping
  • Timelining
  • Digital storytelling (including photomontage, visual essay, video)

You will also be invited to participate in up to two individual interviews with the lead researcher. These will be conducted in a convenient public location or online via zoom, skype, or facetime ideally a few days after the workshop. During the interviews, you will be invited to talk about the activities we did in the previous workshop, including the images you used and your perceptions, thoughts and feelings pertaining to health, including yours and others.

How much of my time will I need to give?

In total, for you to participate fully in the study, you might contribute up to 10 hours over 4 – 8 weeks. This time will be broken up as follows:

  • Participation in group workshop/s - up to 6 hours;
  • Participation in follow up individual interview/s - up to 2 hours; and
  • Additional contact with the researcher, e.g. to check understanding or follow up from a group workshop or individual interview – up to 2 hours

 What benefits will I, and/or the broader community, receive for participating?

Through participating in the study, you may:

  • Enhance your understanding of health, including your own and others;
  • Enhance your digital and health literacy;
  • Build stronger connections with others in your community;
  • Have the opportunity for your voice to be heard by policymakers, educators, health professionals, community members;
  • Develop an appreciation of some aspects of conducting research, for example, ethical considerations, data collection procedures, and measures of research quality.

At each group workshop, refreshments will be available. Participants who complete four data collection points (e.g. two workshops and two interviews) will be gifted a voucher to a local entertainment facility with an approximate value of $20.

The broader community will benefit from your participation in this study through the contribution you will make to enhancing our understanding of young people’s use of social media as it relates to health. Specifically, the outcomes of this study may inform policymakers, educators, health professionals, community members and parents.

Will the study involve any risk or discomfort? If so, what will be done to rectify it?

There are minimal risks associated with your participation in this research project. These are detailed below, including why we feel the risk is justified and how we will take steps to mitigate these risks. 

  • There may be inconveniences associated with participating in a group workshop at a set time and location. We will do our best to arrange group workshops in locations and times convenient to all participants; if this is unachievable, the option for an individual workshop will be made available.
  • There may be some social discomfort associated with a group workshop. Individual workshops are available as an option if you prefer, however, a considerable amount of time is set aside at the start of the workshop to cover the guiding principles and expectations and to allow participants to overcome any initial anxiety or discomfort.
  • There may be a potential for you to have some positive or negative feelings, desires or memories which may be triggered during the discussion. The lead researcher will prepare participants for this to occur by explaining the possibility and what steps they can take if they do experience any strong emotions. The researcher will be available after each discussion to debrief and ensure participants are aware of their options for support for example,
    • KidsHelpLine, 1800 551 800,
    • Lifeline, 13 11 14
    • Western Sydney University Counselling Services:;
      Phone: 1300 668 370 (option 4 then option 1)
  • There may be potential for you to disclose information in a group setting that you would otherwise prefer to keep private. The researcher will remind participants of the nature of the discussion, including that they should not share anything they do not wish to make known to others in the room. The group environment is a confidential space, and as a condition of participation, participants agree not to disclose details of the conversations held within the discussion period with others.

How do you intend to publish or disseminate the results?

The expected research output will include academic publications such as the doctoral thesis, journal publications, book chapters, and conference presentations. The items you create in the workshop activities are yours so you get to decide if you want to share and, if so, who with and how. You will be encouraged to think about how you might want to share the items you create, which might be things like drawings, photomontages, visual essays, mini-documentaries, and digital maps.

In all academic publications and presentations, data will be shared in a summarised form so that you cannot be identified. In some of the research outputs, we might want to include quotes from interview transcripts or visual images supplied by you. Before we publish any data that belongs to you, we will seek your specific consent. This is a separate consent process and cannot occur until after the workshops and interviews have been held (Consent to Disseminate).

Will the data and information I provide be disposed of?

Data will be stored, accessed, archived according to Western Sydney University’s Open Access to Research Policy and Research Data Management Policy. This archive is called ResearchDirect and contains data from many different research projects and some of it is made accessible to other researchers so they can do more or different research with that data rather than collecting it directly from participants again. This means that data you provide that can be deidentified, like interview transcripts, will be archived and made available for similar projects in the future.

Data that cannot be de-identified, like images you use or visual artefacts you create in the research process (i.e. photos, collages, maps, drawings, etc.) are yours to keep. If you choose not to keep, we will destroy them at the conclusion of the research project.

Can I withdraw from the study?

Yes, you can withdraw from the study at any time, without giving a reason. Requests to withdraw can be made at any time via email to the lead researcher, Linda Marsden or via email to the project supervisor, A/Professor Amanda Third.

If you do withdraw, any contribution you’ve made in a group situation may not be able to be withdrawn. You can decide if you want other data to be withdrawn from the data pool, for example, images, or audio recordings of individual discussions. If a written request to withdraw data is not received, the research team will include all data shared up to the point of withdrawal.

As this research project is ongoing and requires repeated interactions with the lead researcher either in person, by phone, email or direct message a person will be deemed to have withdrawn from the project if repeated attempts to make contact via a variety of methods have been unsuccessful.

Can I tell other people about the study?

Yes, you can tell other people about the study by explaining you are participating in research conducted through Western Sydney University for the purpose of improving our understanding of how young people use social media as it relates to their health. If others are interested in participating in the research project, you can provide the Lead Researcher’s contact details or direct them to the project website.

What if I require further information?

Please contact Linda Marsden via email should you wish to discuss the research further before deciding whether or not to participate. Alternatively, you may contact A/Professor Amanda Third.