Conducting research with young children: some ethical considerations

Flewitt, Rosie (2005). Conducting research with young children: some ethical considerations. Early Child Development and Care, 175(6) pp. 553–565.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430500131338

Abstract

The recent foundation of a 'Young Children's Perspectives' special interest group in the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) reflects a general move in social research towards the respectful and inclusive involvement of children in the research process. However, established education research guidelines often provide no more than a loose ethical framework, appearing to focus on avoiding poor ethical conduct rather than proposing ways forward for making children's participation in research a positive experience. This short paper draws on my own experiences of conducting ESRC-funded ethnographic video case studies on the ways four 3-year-old children express their understandings at home and in a pre-school playgroup during their first year of early years education. The paper reflects on the processes of negotiating initial and ongoing consent, problematises the notion of 'informed' consent in exploratory research with young children, and considers questions of anonymity when collecting and reporting on visual data. The paper proposes that by adopting a flexible, reflective stance, early years researchers can learn much from children not only about their perspectives, but also about how to include young children in the research process.

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