A number of research associations provide guidance for the conduct of ethical research. One such association is the British Education Research Association (BERA) which provides guidelines for anyone undertaking educational research. These guidelines are widely applicable to research ‘with’ and ‘by’ children and a wide range of social as well as educational research topics (BERA Ethical Guidelines 2018).
The last principle of the BERA principles to ‘maximise benefit and minimise harm’ to participants, is an intuitive and useful general principle to keep in mind. It prompts us to consider potential sources of harm referenced in the other principles.
BERA also provides two further helpful points for researchers:
These principles can guide researchers to plan and conduct research which has the well-being of children and young people at the heart of an inquiry – throughout the inquiry. Importantly, ethical considerations are not something that are simply considered in planning an ethical research project and then forgotten.
BERA’s guidelines are shaped by five ethical principles agreed by the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) in 2015 which help to frame ethical concerns which underly the practicalities of planning and conducting research:
(Emphasis added) (BERA Ethical Guidelines, 2018).