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Research by Children

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1 Priscilla Alderson (2001) Research by Children: rights and methods. International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice 4 (2): 139-153. Abstract This paper considers the influence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (the Convention) on research about, with and by children. Drawing on an international literature, ways in which children are involved as researchers through research stages, levels of participation, and methods are described, with a review of some of the problems and advantages of children doing research. Introduction: three kinds of rights This review paper draws on a rapidly growing international literature about research by children. ‘Children’ is an awkward word to cover teenagers, but is used to emphasise how young children can also be involved. Three main areas will be discussed: stages of the research process at which children can be involved as actors; levels of children’s participation; and the use of methods which can increase children’s informed involvement in research, thereby respecting their rights. The idea of seeing the previously ‘researched’ adult as a co-researcher or co-producer of data, and equally involved in the analysis, is already widely acknowledged. All the arguments proposed by feminist and Black researchers for research about their own group can also apply to children. Research about a group by members of the same group is usually justified in terms of control and of addressing power imbalances in the research relationship. Such research is also justified in terms of efficiency, as opening the way to closer intimacy and fuller discussion between researchers and researched, as well as making possible a potentially broader range of collection methods and fuller understanding of the data. An explicit and implicit theme within this co-research is respect for the researched group and for their own views and abili

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