Frequently asked questions

What does taking part involve?

We hope you will reply to our questions. These are normally sent out four times a year. They usually contain two or three different topics on which we would like you to report in light of your own experience, including what you see and hear going on around you. The questions should not be treated as a questionnaire. You can write as much or as little as you wish in reply.

Always include a “mini-biography” at the start of each part of your Directive. It is very helpful for researchers to see your age, occupation, where you live and your marital status. It saves them looking you up on our lists; it means that the information they use about you is up-to-date and it gives you control over how much you want to say about yourself.

How much you contribute depends mainly on how you feel and what you have time for.

How much should I write?

That depends entirely on you. We are never going to say that you’ve written too much or too little but we’d rather you wrote one or two lines than nothing at all. Don’t worry about rambling or going off at a tangent. We know that some subjects inspire some people and leave others cold.

You must feel free to pick and choose and to write about your own experience. Stories about things that have happened to you are of special interest. Do remember, all the same, that ‘negative reporting’ is always valuable. If you decide not to answer a particular set of questions, we like to know why. Is it lack of time? Lack of interest? Ill health? Or are there other reasons related to your feelings about the topic?

Must reports be typed?

No. They can be handwritten, typed, word-processed or spoken on an audio tape.

Can I send in audio or video files in addition to, or instead of, written notes?

Yes, you are encouraged to do so.

Can I send in other pieces of writing?

We are pleased to accept contributions on topics that we have not been able to cover in our questions. This could be a personal experience (for example, a holiday, an illness, a birth or death, an incident at work or in your community) or it may be your feelings about current issues and events.

Do you want newspaper cuttings or printed material?

Not usually. However, we are interested in the occasional cutting if it is relevant to the piece you are writing, or where it illustrates a point. And we are happy to accept leaflets, photographs, video clips, labels, menus, advertisements, cartoons, drawings, maps, diagrams and any other “visual aids” where they relate to your response.

Is there a deadline?

We don’t usually specify a deadline. It is helpful to us if you send in your reply within 60 days. Occasionally, however, you may not have the time or inclination to write for a while, and we are still pleased to accept replies which arrive late or in bulk.

Will I receive an acknowledgement?

We always try to ensure that you are told that your post has been safely received – if possible within four weeks of receiving it. We produce a standard acknowledgement letter with some of the latest news to keep you in touch.

Does it matter if I reply late or even miss a set of questions?

No. Sometimes correspondents are too busy to reply – or maybe they don’t feel inspired by the theme of the questions. This is fine, although we are always interested to know if you don’t like the questions and why. If you do want to stop writing for us, please write and tell us why. It would save us a lot of work.

Who sees my contributions?

When your contributions reach the Archive, they are opened, checked and recorded by staff at the Archive. Some are chosen to be publicized, in whole or in part, on the official Pulse Project Website.  All are accessible via the archival website to anybody wishing to research the archive.

How can I be sure that my privacy is respected?

If you would like to remain anonymous in your writing, we ask that you pick a pen name and write under that name. Only members of the Archive staff will be able to link your pen name to your real name.

To increase your privacy, we strongly encourage you to use initials or made-up names for the people you mention.

Your self portrait, your photograph, any letters or diaries, and any other very personal material you send us, are all covered by a 50 year embargo. You can ask for a longer embargo if you wish – or a shorter one. Fifty years from the date of leaving the project seems to satisfy most people’s needs for privacy. It is only fair to say, however, that in the last analysis, no information is truly secure. If you send in information about illicit activities, the Archive might not be able to protect your privacy any more than a priest or doctor could.

Can I leave the project?

Of course! No one should feel obliged to stay with us once they have lost interest or if their circumstances change. Please do tell us why you want to leave.