Designing research for different purposes.

Cooper, Victoria (2013). Designing research for different purposes. In: Clark, Alison; Hammersley, Martyn; Flewitt, Rosie and Robb, Martin eds. Understanding research with children and young people. London: Sage.



There is no single or most effective way in which to conduct childhood and youth research but a range of approaches which have evolved across many different disciplines. Consequently, there are contrasting, and at times conflicting ideas about what childhood and youth means as well as the methods best suited for research with children and young people. There is also the rhetoric of impact, which assumes that research can in some way influence the lives of children and young people by producing knowledge which can inform policy and practice.

This chapter focuses on the wide-ranging purposes for research and encourages you to consider the diverse contributions that investigations can make to how we understand children and young people and how such knowledge can influence policy and practice. To address each of these themes I draw upon traditional research examples as well as more contemporary studies that colleagues and I have been conducting at The Open University in conjunction with partner institutions; including the University of Oxford Young Lives study, and the University of Worcester Work-based Research Project. Each example illustrates a distinct methodological approach and research purpose and draws upon different combinations of academic discipline, spanning education, health and social care. Despite their differences, they each share a commitment to developing greater understanding of the lives and experiences of children, young people and their families.

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