Introduction and background
This chapter draws on key issues emerging from a National Children’s Research Programme (NCRP) to identify methodological, practical, and ethical challenges when designing and implementing research studies with, and about, children and young people. The chapter commences with a brief overview of the NCRP with a summary of the key studies referred to in this chapter presented in the Appendix. More than sixty studies were carried out under the NCRP across areas of children’s lives as diverse as their outcomes (including, for example, health, education, and safety), their relationships (for example, with their peers, families, and others), and services (for example, universal, targeted, and more intensive supports). Consequently, it is possible to draw out learning across multiple methodologies, methods, and analyses, and highlight challenges arising across several aspects of study design and implementation. The chapter is illustrative rather than comprehensive and focuses on those studies that best exemplify issues arising.
The overview is followed by issues in study design, including challenges in ensuring meaningful participation by children and young people, tensions arising between protection of children and their participation, issues arising in consent, assent and re-consent, and a consideration of confidentiality, anonymity, and privacy in the context of children’s research. Challenges in study implementation are focused around areas such as sampling and recruitment, data collection, data analysis, and dissemination. The chapter concludes that while research with, and about, children raises challenges over and above that with adults, these can be overcome with appropriate consideration. The examples presented in this chapter can provide practical guidance in these areas.