Children's Research Centre
Research with and by Children and Young People

What is research ‘with and by’ children and young people?

Research is not just something abstract and academic – it is the inspiration for action that can change our worlds and our everyday lives.

Research involving children and young people can give us insight into young people’s understanding of the world. It is WHY involving young people in research is a good idea.

Boy and girl at desk
Surprised Lady!

Adults are often surprised to find how much insight children and young people have, and that even very young children can contribute meaningfully to research.

Research ‘with and by’ children and young people is a spectrum:

Research with young people is typically led by adults. Children or young people’s views and opinions are sought and valued, but adults define the questions posed and the terms of participation before the research takes place. In well-designed research, insights of children from as young as 2 years can be sought.

Research by children and young people conceptualises them as researchers and creates the conditions for them to lead – choosing their topic, through to sharing the findings. This also encompasses youth participatory action research where young people work with peers and/or adults to produce evidence to address social injustices in organisations, services and society

Much research lies somewhere between these defined roles.

What is important is that adults and young people recognise their capability and potential to contribute to research whatever their role

The spectrum of research with children and young people

Adapted from Payler’s (2016) Continuum of children’s engagement with research, cited in Lees, et. al. (2017) “Positioning Children’s Voice in Clinical Trials Research: A New Model for Planning, Collaboration and Reflection”, Qualitative Health Research 2017, Vol 27(14).

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