Researching Drinking ‘with’ Young People: A Palette of Methods

Samantha Wilkinson, Catherine Wilkinson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)
    150 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: This paper outlines a study characterised by ‘pockets’ of co-production and argues for the benefits of offering young people a palette of interdisciplinary methods to ‘opt into’, giving participants the opportunity to discuss their drinking practices and experiences ‘on their own terms’. Design/methodology/approach: 40 young people, aged 15-24, from the suburban case study locations of Chorlton and Wythenshawe, Manchester, UK, were recruited for multi-stage qualitative research. Participants were presented with a suite of both long-standing and innovative methods that they could ‘opt into’, including: interviews, peer interviews, diaries, mobile phone interviews, text messaging and participant observation. Findings: This paper shows that both long-standing and innovative methods have their own individual strengths for researching into young people’s alcohol consumption practices and experiences. Yet, each of the methods utilised in this study also had specific drawbacks for researching substance use. Offering a palette of methods for participants to ‘opt into’ was thus beneficial in: offsetting the weaknesses of other methods; triangulating the study findings; and enabling participants to communicate with the researcher in culturally credible ways. Research limitations/implications: Practical implications: Social implications: Originality/value: By offering an honest account about the successes and failures of deploying a range of methods when exploring young people’s drinking practices and experiences, this paper is valuable for researchers in, and beyond, the field of substance use, seeking to broaden their methodological toolkit.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6-16
    JournalDrugs and Alcohol Today
    Issue number1
    Early online date27 Mar 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2018


    • Alcohol
    • Co-production
    • Drinking
    • Participatory Methods
    • Qualitative Research
    • 27 Young People.


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