Ethical Research with Children

Ethical Research with Children

Ethical Research with Children

Ethical Research with Children


"This book is an interesting read and one that covers a range of concerns and issues that researchers might encounter when designing research, interviewing or working with children."
Educational Review

This book focuses on doing ethical research with children in today's climate of increased globalization, surveillance and awareness of children as competent research participants. It covers a range of conceptual, methodological and procedural issues, and provides a framework for doing ethical research with children.

Written by international experts in the fields of early childhood research and ethics, this book supports students, practitioner-researchers and research gatekeepers with resources on how to conduct and evaluate ethical research with children. The contributors:

  • Use key examples of cutting-edge research from a range of countries to examine research ethics with children and those around them
  • Provide strategies for planning, conducting and evaluating research in an ethical way
  • Explore theoretical approaches to children and childhood that are relevant to ethical research
Ethical Research with Children is key reading for students in childhood studies, teacher education, public health, nursing, human services, legal studies, psychology and social sciences, as well as practitioner-researchers in these fields.


New times in research ethics are opening up new possibilities for the engagement of children as competent participants in research. These are new times of globalized research productivity, on the one hand, and systematic protective surveillance of children in research, on the other.

This book challenges experienced and emerging practitionerresearchers and research gatekeepers, working in these times, to grapple with the ethical complexities of engaging with children in research.

The term 'ethics' is derived from the Greek ethos, meaning character, nature or disposition. The discipline of ethics was evident as early as the Hippocratic school (see Smith 1996). In the eighteenth century the German philosopher Kant wrote of ethics or moral laws as categorical imperatives (see Kant 1995, 2003) and by the nineteenth century authors such as Thomas Percival had begun to translate ethical imperatives into codes of ethics, particularly for medical practice (see Percival 1997; Newsom 1990). Then, in the mid-twentieth century, ethics became an extant field of practice with a reach wider than medical practice and scientific experimentation.

The contemporary field of ethics was born after World War II, largely from worldwide outrage at wartime experimental atrocities. In 1949 the Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT) drew ten basic principles for ethical research with humans (Secretariat of the International Military Tribunal 1949). Notably, its moral, ethical and legal obligations covered the voluntary consent of humans to participate in and withdraw from the research without force, deceit or coercion (see also Weithorn and Scherer 1994). The NMT mandated that research contribute to the good of the society and avoid unnecessary physical or mental suffering to participants. Soon thereafter, the World Medical Association (WMA 1954) devised its Principles for Those in Research and Experimentation and, in 1964, these principles were adopted as the Declaration of Helsinki (see WMA 2000). That same year, the British Medical Research Association published its Responsibility in Investigations on Human Subjects, a code of ethical conduct for research supervisors, professional associations and scholarly journals (see also Faden 1986; Coughlin and Beauchamp 1996) . . .

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