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Key Considerations

Research with Children

When it comes to carrying out research with children, there are many factors that researchers should consider according to Punch (2002) and Johnson and Hart and Colwell (2014). They point out that as researchers we should respect children as participants and their data by following ethical protocols, such as making sure that the child is provided with a safe environment where they are free from harm. It is also important that the researcher receives informed consent from not only the parents, but the child as well. The privacy and confidentiality of children participants should also be respected. The researcher should not make the child talk about private matters and the child’s identifying information should be kept confidential.

Another way that researchers can respect children as participants, is that they should not impose their own perceptions on the child. Instead, the researcher should allow the child to express their own perceptions and views freely. The issue of adult-children power relationships is a reason for why researchers believe that children might lie, providing inaccurate and unreliable data. What adults need to understand is that children, like adults, may be afraid that they are saying the wrong thing. In turn, this power relationship might also be a reason for why children don’t express their own views freely. One way researchers can solve this issue is by building positive, trusting, supportive relationships with the child. This can encourage the child to openly communicate their opinions, providing the researcher with the child’s own perspectives and interpretations.

In addition, the researchers have to take the physical setting of where the research is being done into consideration. The issue encountered when doing research with children is that most research environments are dominated by adults. For example, a researcher can go into a school to conduct research with children but this setting is dominated by adults. This can affect the child’s willingness to participate and their responses. The researcher should try to conduct research in a space where the child feels more comfortable being themselves. This might not be easy to find, but the researcher has to figure out what space is ideal for the child to trust and be comfortable enough to be an active participant.

Furthermore when dealing with children as research topics of interest according to Punch (2012) the way in which we see children has an affect on how we listen to children. Not only does this have an effect on how we listen to children and interpret their views, but it also has an effect on the methods that researchers use when dealing with children as research candidates. For example when looking at Punch’s article she states that a researcher who views children as different then adults may use ethnography as a way to more accurately understand the child’s world and views appose to using methods that are generally only used for adults.

As Colwell states identifying the different forms of communication that would work for children are important to establish. For example using different forms of media such as videos, paint, clay etc will work differently for each child when doing research. It then becomes important to understand how the child you are doing research with or group of children you are conducting research with learns best and their familiarity with these methods.

In addition to the methods that are used when dealing with children it is important as the researcher to consider the content of the material that is being presented to the child. For example if a child finds little to no interest in the topic in which you are studying the child will be less inclined to enjoy the research which can then effect the validity of the results.

Lastly, it is also important to respect and understand that every child comes from different cultural backgrounds. When working with children from different cultures the researcher has to be aware of what’s socially and culturally acceptable. It is important to be aware if a method is appropriate and safe to use with children from different cultures, because something that is acceptable in one’s culture might not be in another’s.


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