Guidance on the ethics of research involving children published by University of Liverpool

children in colour

A team of researchers from the School of Law and Social Justice have published a trailblazing series of papers setting out best practice around the ethics of research involving children.

Researchers from the European Children’s Rights Unit (ECRU) have developed the series of six papers in conjunction with the University’s Committee on Research Ethics.

The series, hosted by the National Centre for Research Methods seeks to assist researchers from all disciplines with the practicalities of preparing and implementing ethically robust methodologies, particularly when conducting qualitative research with children.

Dr Ed Horowicz, project lead for the guidance papers, described their development as “an important collaboration between children’s researchers and the University’s Central Ethics Committee to support both those designing ethical research with children and those tasked with ethical review.”

The publicly-available papers provide guidance around:

  1. obtaining consent in research involving children
  2. putting appropriate safeguards in place
  3. ethical considerations relating to the use of digital methods
  4. recruiting children for research
  5. privacy, confidentiality and data protection

While the focus is on children, the guidance papers should provide useful tips and materials to inform all empirical research generally, in particular studies involving other vulnerable participants

Dr Eleanor Drywood, ECRU Director said: “Children and childhood is a major research theme across all Faculties at the University of Liverpool. More than 150 researchers are actively engaged with child related research across the University

“While conducting research involving children is challenging, it’s also absolutely vital and underpins our major research themes. That’s why the team at ECRU, with these guidance papers, are really pleased to be providing researchers with the practical tools to ensure that research in this crucial area can be conducted in an ethically robust manner.

“More than 150 researchers are actively engaged with child-related research across the University and we hope that this guidance is a useful provides them with a useful tool for ethical considerations, no matter what their discipline.

“The guidance papers therefore aim to facilitate transparency and positive dialogue between researchers and ethics committees as a collaborative endeavour that underpins best practice and enhances research with children.

“If any researchers across the University of Liverpool would find it useful to talk over their approach to research involving children, or an ethics application, then the ECRU would be happy to help. Please e-mail for more information.”

You can read the guidance entitled The Ethics of Research Involving Children: Common Questions, Potential Strategies and Useful Guidance here.