Research FAQs

This research is being conducted as part of a doctoral thesis in anthropology at the University of Oxford. The aim of this thesis is to understand an emerging new phenomenon known as digital food commensality, that is eating together with someone online. The current Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with a unique opportunity to study this phenomenon now, as greater numbers of people are acting out their social lives through the digital.

No, you do not have to take part. You can ask questions about the research before deciding whether or not to take part. If you do agree to take part, you may withdraw yourself from the study, without giving a reason, by advising me of this decision. The deadline by which you can withdraw any information you have contributed to the research is August 1st 2022 and the information/data you provided will be deleted.

At minimum, you will be asked to fill out an online survey with basic demographic questions as well as some questions around your social eating habits and practices. If you wish to be further involved, there will be an opportunity to take part in an online interview as well as a virtual dinner.

You will be interviewed about digital food commensality online through an online platform called that has been built specifically for this research project. Questions might include: When did you first start eating with others online? What value does eating with others online have for you? Who do you normally eat with online? How have your social eating practices changed since Covid-19? What do you do for a living? Where are the people you eat with online, based? Etc. The duration of these interviews will last for about an hour.

Following on from the online semi-structured interviews, there will be an opportunity to take part in an online food gathering event. This will involve, for example, setting up an online dinner with you, your friends and/or family and others and allowing me to observe how you conduct these dinners, as well as answering some further probing questions about digital food commensality. I am interested in learning from you and understanding how you practice digital food commensality, how Covid-19 has affected your social eating practices in your location and how your online social practices may differ from those of your friends based elsewhere.

With your consent, I might like to audio record our interviews to have an accurate recording of your thoughts, write down any thoughts to come to mind during the interviews and dinners, and take screenshots of the dinners.

As with anything, there are always risks. Sharing/opening up one’s home (albeit online) may leave you feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable in some way. Eating online with someone other than someone you are familiar with, i.e. me (the researcher) may leave you feeling anxious. That is why the dinners take place at the final stage, once we have spent some time together during the interviews and during any other time you feel the need to talk to me. Your well-being and comfort are my number one priority. There may be a risk of experiencing distress when participating in this study as you will be asked questions that could be triggering for some people, for example questions around your eating habits, how often you eat with others and such. Should you experience any distress following participation please seek support using the resources listed at the end of the survey. You may also wish to speak to your doctor.

There is also the possibility that someone may hack into the system, thereby breaching confidentiality.

To reduce any potential risks, I will maintain communication and transparency throughout the research process, keeping you updated with all that is going on and answering any questions or concerns you may have. Any personal information collected will be pseudonymised to protect your privacy in the event of any data breach.

The benefit of taking part is to be at the forefront of emerging research. By taking part in the dinners you may find out something new and have a really great time!  I hope that this thesis will contribute something unique and meaningful to academia.

The information you provide during the study is the research data. Any research data from which you can be identified (, date of birth, audio recording etc.) is known as personal data.

Personal / sensitive data will be transferred as digital files to a password-protected external hard drive which will be secured within a lockbox inside my flat.

Other research data (including consent forms) will be stored for at least three years after publication or public release of the work of the research. All research data will be transferred as a digital file to a password-protected external hard drive which will be secured in a lockbox inside my flat.

The University of Oxford is the data controller with respect to your personal data, and as such will determine how your personal data is used in the study. The University will process your personal data for the purpose of the research outlined above. Research is a task that is performed in the public interest.

Further information about your rights with respect to your personal data is available from http://

This study has been reviewed by, and received ethics clearance through, the University of Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee (Reference number: SAME_C1A_21_088)

If you have any concerns about any aspect of this study, please contact my supervisor, Professor Stanley Ulijaszek at, who will do their best to answer your query. They will acknowledge your concern within 10 working days and give you an indication of how it will be dealt with. If you remain unhappy or wish to make a formal complaint, please contact the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Oxford, SAME Departmental Research Ethics Committee, University of Oxford, 51-53 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PE or at will seek to resolve the matter as soon as possible.