Children's Research Centre
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2. Considerations and practicalities of planning and conducting high quality research

The nature of qualitative research questions

Qualitative research tends to ask: ‘how’, ‘why’ and ‘why not’? 

Qualitative research is about exploring meanings and developing understanding about the world and things in it. These are questions associated with much research ‘with’ and ‘by’ children and young people. Qualitative research with children and young people engages with their different way of experiencing and understanding things; the insights that this can bring to expand adults’ views of the world and increased understanding about the issues children and young people deal with in their lives.

Practitioners

Read more about formulating research questions

Young People

GO TO: My Shout, My Question

 

Qualitative research uses ‘authenticity ’and ’trustworthiness’ as measures of the quality and rigour of research (Guba and Lincoln 1994).

Underpinning values of high quality research

The values underpinning all quality research refer to the researcher being rigorous, critical and ethical. These values translate into the following principles for planning and conducting research:
  • Be rigorous: Systematically follow a step-by-step organised procedure to carry out your enquiry that minimises bias.
  • Be critical: Evaluate evidence from different perspectives to develop a rationale that justifies your selection of methods and interpretation of your findings.
  • Be ethical: Give due care and attention to the impact or possible harm that your enquiry may have upon the environment and the people in it.
(Ref: www.geography-fieldwork.org)

Be Rigorous

Engaging children and young people in every stage of the planning and conducting of research can support the development of rigorous, critical and ethical research which involves them. This engagement is often what distinguishes research ‘with’ and ‘by’ children and young people from research which remains research ‘about’ children and young people.

Be Critical

A sufficient body of authentic, valid and applicable data is required to provide a robust body of evidence to support research findings.

Sufficiency of data will depend upon the nature of the research question and the time and other resources you and the children and young people you work with have to devote to the inquiry. The key to ensuring the quality of research is to be transparent in reporting clearly what data you collected how and why.
Data which has been generated with children and young people about their views and experiences can have strengthened authenticity. Valid and applicable data is that which is both reliable and relevant to research questions.

Be Ethical

Ethical research is at the heart of quality research and has been explored in detail at the outset of our considerations of ‘How to involve children and young people in research’ (Link to page).

As can be seen, engaging children and young people in as many stages of the research process as possible has potential to increase the authenticity, trustworthiness and quality of research.

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