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Data Security

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this research will largely be conducted online. This means that interviews and video diaries will need to be transferred online too. I have ensured that all data storage and transmission is compliant with GDPR regulations.

Below I will list my protocol for how I will keep data safe, and how I will protect the anonymity of my participants.

Interviews

As part of the interview the principal researcher(*) will record a statement of consent and this will be separated out from the audio and transcript to form a consent document. These files will be stored on an external hard drive which will be stored in the researcher’s workplace(**).

Phone interviews will be recorded via a digital recorder, which does not have internet capabilities. This recorder will be stored in a locked box in the researcher’s workplace until the data can be transferred to a secure university drive. Video or audio interviews held using Microsoft Teams will be recorded through the Teams app on the researcher’s laptop. The resultant files of these will be removed from the Teams app as soon as the data has been downloaded (immediately post-interview). 

The data will be transferred directly to the university’s DataStore, a secure data drive which can only be accessed by the principal researcher and the research supervisors.

All interview data will be transcribed by the principal researcher. Transcripts will have names and locations anonymised. The anonymised transcripts will be stored on an encrypted university drive. The transcripts and the raw interview data will be accessible only to the principal researcher and the research supervisors (Fadhila Mazanderani and Ingrid Young).

Video Diaries

Video diaries will be recorded by participants using the app Signal. Signal is an end-to-end encrypted service, which allows participants to record and send videos within the app. These videos will not be stored locally on the participants’ devices. Signal allows for encryption auditing by distributing unique security codes for each exchange. Signal has a PIN protection option, which will be switched on on both the participants’ and the researcher’s devices.

Participants will use Signal to capture their videos and then send these to the principal researcher using the same app to a designated research phone. This phone will only be used for the sake of receiving messages via signal from participants. This device will not be connected to any cloud storage or sharing facilities. Videos will be saved to the device, transferred via USB-link to the university’s DataStore. Videos will be kept on the smartphone device until they have successfully been transcribed, then they will be deleted from the device and only kept within DataStore.

All videos will be transcribed by the principal researcher and anonymised in the same manner as interview data. Raw data will only be accessible to the principal researcher and the research supervisors.

Microsoft Teams

The University of Edinburgh has designated Microsoft Teams as a secure app to conduct and record interviews. The app can be accessed from laptops, tablets and smartphones. It has the capacity to have video calls as well as audio-only calls, using a stable internet connection. It is possible to have one of these calls with someone from outside of the UoE organisation.

Microsoft Teams allows for private spaces to be created where interviews can be recorded, and resultant recordings are stored securely.

Signal

Signal is an instant messaging app similar to other popular apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Signal’s main purpose within the instant messaging market is to provide a fully encrypted communication app. All messages within Signal are encrypted, with no third-party access to any of the data sent. Any data created within the app, such as photos, videos or voice recordings, are not stored locally on the device, but are kept fully encrypted within the app and are only accessible by the creator of that data and whomever they choose to send the data to. The data encryption of each exchange on Signal can be audited, if ever there was need to investigate security. Signal has the option for the app itself to be PIN protected.

(*) The principal researcher in this case is Sophie Buijsen.

(**) When referring to ‘my workplace’ I am currently referring to my home. As the situation with COVID-19 might change between the time of writing and the completion of my thesis, this might become my office space at the University of Edinburgh. At both places there is a secure locked place where no one else besides me has access.

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Information for Parents/Guardians

If you are on this page, it is likely that a teenager in your care has shown interest in participating in my research project. I want to thank you and the potential participant for showing interest. Below I have addressed some of the most common queries regarding what it entails for your child to participate in this research.

Who can I contact to talk about this research?

You can contact me directly by emailing me on sophie.buijsen@ed.ac.uk I endeavour to reply to any queries about the project within the next working day.

Alternatively you can contact my PhD supervisors Fadhila Mazanderani and Ingrid Young.

Why has my child been chosen for this research?

For someone to be eligible to participate in my research they have to be aged between 14-17, identify as a girl and live in Scotland or the Netherlands. That’s it! Those are the only pre-requisites for participation.

You may wonder if I select participants based on their sexual activity. But this is not the case. If a participant is eligible and they are interested, they can join. I am interested in knowledge, not experience, so participants do not need to be sexually active or disclose anything they have experience in. I just want to know what they think about the subject of sex, sexuality and sexual health.

How do I know my child will be safe?

I do not take the safety of participants lightly, and have gone through a rigorous procedure at the University of Edinburgh to gain ethical approval for this research. As part of this process I presented my methodology to a panel of experts in the fields of research ethics and research with young people.

You can read my Data Security protocol here. I am working with encrypted services and only store data in appropriately encrypted locations. All data will be anonymised.

The participants will only be dealing with me. But they will be able to contact my supervisors in case they are unhappy with how the research is conducted. Participants will be made aware at all times that their participation is voluntary and that they can withdraw whenever they wish to.

Additionally participants only have to discuss matters they are comfortable discussing, and we will make sure we have a procedure for when any subjects come up they do not wish to discuss.

What will my child be asked to do?

You can find all the information about participation on the participant page.

What is the purpose of their participation?

You can find more information about the purpose of the research project here.

What happens if I do not want my child to participate?

Of course I would be disappointed to hear that. I would ask that you contact me, so we can discuss your concerns.

For this research participants do not need parental consent. It is my strong belief that 14-17 year olds can make an informed decision if they wish to contribute to this research or not. This research specifically advocates that young people have a right to speak up about this subject. Therefore your lack of consent does not block your child from being able to participate in the research.

If you reach out to me and after our discussion you still do not wish for your child to participate in this research, I will get in touch with the participant to discuss how they wish to proceed. In the end it is their decision.

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Want to be part of this research project?

You would like to be a participant? That is great news! I am always looking for more people to join my project. If you are aged between 14 and 17, identify as a girl, and live in Scotland or the Netherlands, you can join!

To let me know you’re interested, or to ask any questions about the project, please send an email to:

If you want to know more about what being part of this project entails, I have listed some more information below. If you still have questions after reading this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


What is this research project about?

This research project is interested in what girls have to say about sexual health, sexuality and sex more generally. A lot is said in the media and by people in charge about teenage girls and sex, but for this project I want to hear what you have to say. Particularly for this research I am interested in the ways in which girls exchange knowledge about sex and sexuality. I am focusing on what you know, and not necessarily personal experience of sex, sexuality or sexual health.

What methods does this project use?

This project uses two methods. First you will be asked to take part in an interview. Secondly you will be asked to keep a video diary for six weeks. The interviews and the video diaries will be recorded and transcribed, and this will be the data used for analysis.

What will taking part in an interview involve?

Before taking part in an interview you can ask me any questions you might have about the project. If you agree to take part, you will need to fill in a consent form. After I receive the consent form you will be interviewed by me over the telephone or via a video call at a time convenient to you. The focus of the interview will be to get to know you and your thoughts and opinions on sex and sexuality. It is expected that the interview will last for approximately an hour, although in some cases this may be longer. The interview will be recorded and transcribed by me.

What will taking part in video diary recording involve?

You will be asked to download the app Signal to your phone. Signal is a secure and encrypted messaging service like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. You can record and send videos immediately in this app. You will receive instructions on how to do this securely before you start the video diary process. Every week I will send you an email with some questions for you to reflect on, and I will ask you to record a video of no more than 2 minutes in which you reflect on the questions I sent, or to reflect on things in your life which you find important to discuss for this research. The video can take any form you like, but please do not include any other people in your videos, as they have not agreed to be part of the research!

Will my involvement be confidential?

All personal information will be kept strictly confidential. In some cases you might tell me something that makes me worried you or someone else are being hurt. In that case, I may have to discuss this with a social worker, who will be able to help you. I will inform you when I think this has happened and I will discuss with you why and how we will speak to someone else about this. I will never report anything you tell me before first talking to you about it.

The information obtained from the interview and the diaries will be transcribed and anonymised. I will give you a different name when I reference your interview and diary material. The procedures for handling, processing, storing and destruction of the data comply with GDPR regulations. After the study has finished, any identifiable information you provide will be kept for a year, after which they will be destroyed. You can read more about my data security process here.

Will I need to tell my parents/guardians about this research?

No, you do not have to inform your parents. Of course, you are allowed to and if your parents/guardians have any questions about this research, feel free to give them my contact details, or direct them to this page. But if you do not feel comfortable informing other people that you are taking part in this research, you do not have to. It is entirely up to you to decide if you want to take part.

What if I change my mind about participating?

­Things might change in your life and you no longer want to participate, that is ok! You can stop your participation at any time. If for any reason you don’t want to participate anymore after starting the project, please let me know and we will stop the participation process. I will ask you if you are comfortable with me using any interview and diary data that you provided so far, but if you prefer not to be a part of the study at all, I will make sure your data is destroyed and I will not contact you anymore.

If your reason for not wanting to participate anymore is due to something about the project that makes you uncomfortable, it would be very useful if you could make sure you let me or my supervisors know. This way we can make sure that no other participants are affected by whatever has made you uncomfortable.

What will happen to the results of the research?

The research will hopefully be presented at academic conferences, published in journals and books, and shared through other channels, including through organisations, researchers and policy-makers. You can follow the results of the research on this website.