Citation: Ní Bhroin, N. & Staksrud, E. (2022). Protecting and promoting children's rights and agency in research: An annotated bibliography and guided reading list. CO:RE – Children Online: Research and Evidence.
Alderson, P. (2000) `Children as Researchers: The Effects of Participation Rights on Research Methodology', in P. Christensen and A. James (eds) Research with Children: Perspectives and Practices, pp. 241-275. London: Falmer Press.
In this chapter, Priscilla Alderson considers how the involvement of children as researchers in research projects raises issues for adults who do research with children. She considers issues that arise regarding when children can be involved in research; what degree of participation is involved; and methods that can be used to increase children’s informed involvement with research. Alderson sees adults and children as co-researchers and co-producers of data in these contexts.
Bell, N. (2008). Ethics in child research: rights, reason and responsibilities. Children’s Biographies, 6, 7-20.
In this article, Nancy Bell explores the relationship between research ethics and children’s rights. She examines the historical origins of both concepts and analyses contemporary research ethical guidelines from a rights-based perspective. She finds that research ethical guidelines in the social sciences and humanities often lack direct reference to human rights principles such as those articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Berman, Gabrielle; Albright, Kerry (2017). Children and the Data Cycle:Rights and Ethics in a Big Data World, Innocenti Working Papers, no. 2017-05, UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, Florence -
In this working paper, Gabrielle Berman and Kerry Albright show how children and young people’s voices have largely been missing in debates about the gathering and analysis of big data. Furthermore, there is little debate about how ethical standards and methods developed for research in the offline world can be adapted for online contexts. The authors argue that child rights need to be firmly integrated in global debates about ethics in data science.
Cowie, B., & Khoo, E. (2017). Accountability through access, authenticity and advocacy when researching with young children. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(3), 234–247.
In this article Bronwen Cowie and Elaine Khoo discuss how research about children’s use of digital and mobile technologies foregrounds emerging research ethical issues and practices. They discuss issues they faced in their own research when recruiting young children as research participants. They propose an ethical framework to foreground the challenges they experienced, focusing on three key aspects - namely access, authenticity and advocacy. The framework is grounded in the view of children as social actors and experts in their own lives, of digital media as ubiquitous in children’s lives and of ethics as a situated and multifaceted responsibility. They argue that their framework can offer children greater agency in research contexts.
Holland, S., Renold, E., Ross, N. J., & Hillman, A. (2010). Power, agency and participatory agendas: A critical exploration of young people’s engagement in participative qualitative research. Childhood-a Global Journal of Child Research, 17(3), 360–375.
In this article, the authors critically explore data generated in a participatory research project with young people in the care of a local authority. The article problematizes aspects of power, ethics and agency in participatory research from poststructural perspectives and cautions against the assumption that participatory research per se necessarily produces ‘better’ research data, equalizes power relations or enhances ethical integrity.
Ilbury, C. (2022): Researcher-imposed context collapse in digital ethnographic research. In S. Kotilainen (Ed.), Methods in practice: Studying children and youth online (chapter 12).
In this chapter Ilbury reminds us of researchers duty of care to young participants, and reports on his use of the technical affordances of social media applications, such as ‘screenshot notification’ to remind research participants of the presence of the researcher. This, Ilbury argues, is particularly relevant in contexts where young participants might reveal potentially sensitive information. Ilbury also calls for a reflective approach to sampling and analysis, and submits that children and young people could be involved in reviewing data collected about them to consider whether or not it should be included for further analysis.
Kalmus, V., Opermann, S. & Tikerperi, M. (2022): Conducting school-based online survey during the COVID-19 pandemic: Fieldwork practices and ethical dilemmas. In S. Kotilainen (Ed.), Methods in practice: Studying children and youth online (chapter 13).
In this chapter, Kalmus, Opermann and Tikerperi highlight the importance of the three ‘Cs’ of planning for the research context, namely ‘Communication’ about the research with relevant parties, considering how to appropriately secure informed ‘Consent’, and considering the differences between engaging in research in physical, hybrid and digital ‘Classroom’ contexts.
Lomax, H. (2012). Contested voices? Methodological tensions in creative visual research with children. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 15(2), 105–117.
In this paper, Helen Lomax discusses methodological tensions arising from creative visual research with children in light of a critique about the participatory assumptions of this methodology. She focuses on children (aged 8-12) and their interactions with an adult research team who used a range of creative methods including child-led video and photography. Lomax suggests that attention to the dynamics between children as researchers and participants is essential in order to understand how children’s voices are made (and diminished) in child-led creative visual methods. She submits that researchers need to pay attention to the ways in which children’s voices are heard differently and unequally and argues that this in turn challenges theorisation of children’s single voice which is suggested in research literature.
Lundy, L. (2007). «Voice» is not enough: Conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927–942.
In this article, Laura Lundy criticises the concept of ‘pupil voice’ from a children’s rights perspective. Her analysis is founded on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives children the right to have their views given due weight in all matters affecting them. Drawing on research conducted on behalf of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Lundy assesses some of the barriers to the meaningful and effective implementation of the right within education. She argues that phrases commonly used as abbreviations for Article 12, such as ‘pupil voice’, have the potential to diminish its impact as they provide an imperfect summary of the full extent of the obligation. Lundy proposes a new model, which has four key elements, for conceptualising Article 12— Voice, Audience and Influence.
Kofoed, Jette & Staksrud, Elisabeth (2018). ‘We always torment different people, so by definition, we are no bullies’: The problem of definitions in cyberbullying Research.. New Media & Society. ISSN 1461-4448. 0(0) . doi: doi:10.1177/1461444818810026
Not open access but full text is available via this link: (Full text in Research Archive)
In this article, Jette Kofoed and Elisabeth Staksrud investigate the power of prevailing definitions within the research field of cyberbullying. They address how these definitions have had a problematic influence on the way researchers, policymakers and practitioners working with interventions, as well as children and young people approach the challenge of understanding and preventing cyberbullying and its consequences. They also argue that the dominant research paradigm has deemed the extensive experience with cyberbullying of many children and young people as irrelevant, and therefore largely ignored their opinions on matters that concern them. They argue that research on cyberbullying needs to draw on a broad spectrum of empirical data and incorporate multiple and diverse theoretical perspectives.
Morrow, V. and M. Richards (1996) ‘The Ethics of Social Research with Children: An Overview’, Children and Society 10: 90–105.
In this article, Virginia Morrow and Martin Richards address debates about researching with children in the UK. They discuss the extent to which children should be regarded as similar to, or different from, adults in social research. They focus on how children are positioned as vulnerable, incompetent and relatively powerless in society in general, and how this conceptualisation of children needs to be taken into account in social research.
Pinter, A., & Zandian, S. (2015). «I thought it would be tiny little one phrase that we said, in a huge big pile of papers»: Children’s reflections on their involvement in participatory research. Qualitative Research, 15(2), 235–250.
In this article, Pinter and Zandian report on their approach to sharing the findings of a participatory research project with children and young people. In the process of sharing the findings, the children directed the researchers attention away from what they considered to be the main results of the research and towards issues that mattered to them. The children were more keen to discuss issues of representation, transcription and their role and presence in the research, than the results and benefits that were presented to them. The authors argue that this opened up a transformational space where both child participants and adult researchers could gain new understandings about the research process and the relationships it involved. They argue that their retrospective reflection can be a beneficial tool to exploring children’s post hoc interpretations of research, while also developing researcher reflexivity.
Pothong, K. & Livingstone, S. (2022): Consulting children during COVID-19: managing research ethics on zoom. In S. Kotilainen (Ed.), Methods in practice: Studying children and youth online (chapter 11).
In this chapter about conducting research online during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pothong and Livingstone highlight the importance of being mindful of the need to limit the duration of online consultations with children and young people and to allow for more spontaneous and flexible approaches to group formation in interview contexts. They also report that during their research process, they turned off the chat function during interviews and only used break-out rooms when they had the resources to moderate these.
Punch, S. (2002). Research with children: The same or different from research with adults? Childhood, 9(3), .
In this article, drawing on classroom-based research carried out in Bolivia, Samantha Punch explores seven methodological issues that illustrate how aspects of the research process usually considered to be the same for both adults and children, can pose particular dilemmas for adult researchers working with children. She argues that research with children is potentially different from research with adults mainly because of adult perceptions of children and children's marginalised position in adult society. She also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using task-based methods (such as diaries and worksheets) to involve children in the research process.
All of the resources referenced in our reading lists are also included in our Zotero library.
All annotated reading lists on research ethics
Protecting and promoting children’s rights and agency in researchProtecting and promoting children’s rights and agency in research
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : Ensuring beneficence in research with children and young people
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : What is research integrity?
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : What to consider when engaging children and young people as co-researchers?
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : Ethical considerations in online research with children and young people
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : Understanding research ethics in the context of children and young peoples’ digital lives
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : What is ethical informed consent?
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : Protecting and promoting children’s rights and agency in research
An annotated bibliography and guided reading list on research ethics : Working with sensitive personal data in research with children and young people