Building Capacity for Ethical Research with Children & Young People
A Childwatch thematic group was approved in 2010 to undertake an international scoping project entitled, Building Capacity for Ethical Research with Children & Young People. This has arisen out of Childwatch’s commitment to encouraging ethical research practices through the provision of up-to-date information, training and resources to help Key Institutions (KIs) undertake high-quality, effective and creative research studies with children.
This thematic group has been established to:
- Identify the ethical issues and challenges in undertaking research with and for children in different majority and minority world contexts; and
- Identify and collate existing ethics guidelines and resources in use in different countries that could potentially be translated, analysed and disseminated amongst researchers in the CWI network - and beyond – as a way of promoting the conduct of ethical, respectful research in different cultural and social contexts.
2013 Book: Cross-Cultural Child Research: Ethical Issues (Ed.) Halvard Fossheim. The book is published by the Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees. The book launch was arranged and hosted by the Norwegian Centre for Child Research, NTNU. This book is the indirect result of an initiative taken by Jon-Kristian Johnsen at a one-day conference held at Litteraturhuset in Oslo on 18 March, 2011. The meeting was financed by the Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees and Childwatch International Research Network with additional support from the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO.
Research on and with children in cross-cultural contexts presents several challenges—concerning consent, methodology, risk and responsibility. In the volume Cross-Cultural Child Research, experienced researchers share their reflections on these issues.
The volume includes contributions by
Elisabeth Backe-Hansen, Professor at Norwegian Social Research (NOVA)
Anne Trine Kjørholt, Professor at the Norwegian Centre for Child Research, University of Science and Technology
Harald Beyer Broch, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo
Janet Boddy, Reader in Child, Youth and Family Studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth at the University of Sussex
Ragnhild Dybdahl, previously head of education and research at Norad
Jason Hart, lecturer in the Anthropology of International Development at the University of Bath and a Research Associate of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford
2012 Literature Review: The KIs leading this project are from Australia and New Zealand
A follow up of this study was to review the current literature regarding ethical issues in research with children and young people. Child research ethics is a topic that has seen a significant growth in interest over recent years, in response to developments in both child research and ethics (Alderson & Morrow, 2011; Hill, 2005; Farrell, 2005), and consequently there is a large body of literature related to this. The burgeoning interest is clearly apparent in a preliminary search of the literature using the key words children, research and ethics, which revealed between 1,900 and 11,000 journal articles in four article database search engines. The focus of this review is ethical issues in relation to undertaking research with children and young people. Clavering and McLaughlin’s (2010) recent comprehensive literature review examined the ways in which children have been engaged in health-related research practices, and found that the three approaches used were best summarised as research on children, with children and by children.
Download the literature review: Powell, M.A., Fitzgerald, R., Taylor, N.J., & Graham, A. (2012, March). International Literature Review: Ethical Issues in Undertaking Research with Children and Young People (Literature review for the Childwatch International Research Network). Lismore: Southern Cross University, Centre for Children and Young People / Dunedin: University of Otago, Centre for Research on Children and Families
Ethical Research Involving Children: International Charter and Guidelines
A meeting of 17 child and youth research experts was held in London in July 2011 where the international survey findings and an early draft of the literature review provided stimulus for discussion about issues, gaps and concerns that require ongoing attention from the international research community. Participants at the meeting agreed that while the importance of ethical research involving children and young people is now widely accepted, there is an increasingly evident need for the development of an International Charter and Guidelines, as well as closer attention to major matters of ethics governance, training and access to available resources. To advance these issues, a Joint Project between the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre and Childwatch commenced later in 2011. Email consultations with the international research community also took place via well-known online/internet-based networks in December 2011, advising of the project and inviting advice and information about ethics issues and initiatives relevant to the development of an International Charter and Guidelines. A total of 66 responses were received from researchers working in a range of different contexts who shared experience, questions, resources and offers to be further involved in an international dialogue about the best way forward with the Charter and Guidelines. A meeting of the Project Advisory Group was hosted at the Innocenti Research Centre in April 2012 and work has continued on developing and refining the International Charter and Guidelines to the point where they will shortly be available for extensive consultation with researchers and other stakeholders in a wide range of regions and organisations internationally.
The project will be completed in November 2012 and has involved detailed mapping of existing Charters and Guidelines to identify content and approaches, including primary areas of focus as well as gaps – both in terms of ethical principles and practice, and in relation to methodological approaches; collation, review and analysis of existing ethics systems, guidelines, practices and resources from different countries, particularly those relevant to a multidisciplinary perspective, to identify the core principles, strengths, gaps and questions arising from these that are related to the ethics of research involving children and young people; and the review of relevant philosophical ethics and governance systems and practices in different local and disciplinary contexts.
The first initiative was to undertake an international scoping project entitled Building Capacity for Ethical Research with Children and Young People. This project aimed to identify the ethical issues and challenges in undertaking research with and for children and young people in different majority and minority world contexts; and to identify and collate existing ethics guidelines and resources. It was anticipated that the findings would extend existing knowledge and provide information and resources that could usefully contribute to promoting the conduct of ethical, respectful research in different cultural and social contexts. To the best of our knowledge it is the first international project of its kind to identify and explore the ethical issues facing researchers, in a range of contexts, when undertaking research with children, particularly in relation to participatory research with children.
Download the report: Powell, M.A., Graham, A., Taylor, N., Newell, S., & Fitzgerald, R.: Building Capacity for Ethical Research with Children and Young People: An International Research Project to Examine the Ethical Issues and Challenges in Undertaking Research with and for Children in Different Majority and Minority World Contexts.(Research Report for the Childwatch International Research Network). Dunedin: University of Otago Centre for Research on Children and Families / Lismore: Centre for Children and Young People.
Involved Key Institutions:
Centre for Children & Young People (CCYP), Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia (Anne Graham, Mary Ann Powell, Robyn Fitzgerald)
Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF), University of Otago, New Zealand (Nicola Taylor).