Research is vital to understanding how we can improve children’s lives and create a better future for all. Methods of research involving children are expanding rapidly and changing the way we think about children and what they have to tell us about issues relevant to their lives. But how can we ensure these research approaches are ethically sound, children are respected and their views and perspectives gathered and reported with integrity? Faced with dilemmas and challenges, researchers often struggle to find adequate guidance and strategies.
While a range of guidance materials on research involving children is available, it was considered timely and important to bring together the best thinking internationally about key ethical issues and how these might be addressed in different research contexts. This extensive evidence is underpinned by an explicit emphasis on the important role of reflexivity, rights and relationships in progressing ethical research.
The Ethical Research Involving Children Project is intended to provide both guidance and a forum for discussion offering advice and possible solutions. A joint initiative by the UNICEF Office of Research, the Childwatch International Research Network, the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and the Children’s Issues Centre at the University of Otago, the Ethical Research Involving Children Project avoids a prescribed approach and encourages greater consideration of ethical issues as part of a reflective process between researchers, children and other stakeholders.
Nearly 400 members of the international research and NGO communities have contributed to this project that has developed a range of resources to provide clear guidance on ethical issues and concerns that can be applied in multiple research contexts. The resources include:
- An International Charter for Ethical Research Involving Children;
- A Compendium on ethical issues and challenges, including a collection of over 20 case studies as well as structured questions to guide ethical research involving children (called ‘Getting Started’);
- A website www.childethics.com specifically designed to provide a rich repository of evidence-based information, resources and links to journal articles to guide and improve research involving children and to provide a platform for further critical reflection and dialogue.
We hope that these resources will support you and your organisation to further develop, enrich and sustain high quality, ethical research that will contribute to improving the lives of children. Please join us in this effort and share your ideas and experience on www.childethics.com.