Volume 2 Issue 1 (2006)
Research Design

Using Activity Diaries: Some Methodological Lessons

Tracey Crosbie
School of Environment and Development, The University of Manchester
Published March 2, 2006
  • research methods,
  • activity diaries,
  • time use,
  • time allocation,
  • ICTs


Descriptions of how people use time can tell us much about quality of life, social and economic well-being, and patterns of leisure, work, travel, and communication. Self-administered activity diaries are one of the main methods available for capturing data on time use. This paper discusses some of the methodological issues surrounding the use of self-administered activity diaries as a tool for capturing data on communication and travel activities. Its main concern is to highlight the lessons learnt from the use of self-administered activity diaries as a supplementary method of data collection in a recent study. This study assessed whether different levels of access to, and use of, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) enable different paces of life in different communities, and how this process might be contributing to social and spatial polarisation. The insights gained into how activity dairies can be successfully applied are relevant to research within any discipline where this method of data collection is being considered.