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History and Process

ERIC is a joint project between UNICEF’s Office of Research, Innocenti, the Childwatch International Research Network, the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, Australia, and the Children’s Issues Centre at the University of Otago, New Zealand. The ERIC project has involved over two years of research and consultation with the international research community. ERIC emerged out of a recognised need to connect up researchers and other research stakeholders who are committed to research approaches that promote rather than diminish the dignity, rights and wellbeing of children.

A core tenet of ERIC is an ongoing invitation to researchers to share their experience, questions, concerns and stories about their engagement with research ethics.

To date, researchers and other stakeholders have shared their experiences and stories through a number of key activities including:

An International survey on ethics-related issues undertaken in 2010 to ascertain the views of researchers doing research involving children in diverse social and cultural contexts and disciplines. Two hundred and fifty seven participants across 46 countries responded (Powell, Graham, Taylor, Newell & Fitzgerald, 2011).

A meeting of 17 child and youth research experts was held in London in July 2011.  A survey and a literature review focusing on ethics in research with children provided stimulus for discussion about issues, gaps and concerns that require ongoing attention from the international research community. Participants at the meeting agreed that while the importance of ethical research involving children and young people is now widely accepted, there is an increasingly evident need for the development of an International Charter and  Ethical Guidance, as well as closer attention to major matters of ethics governance, training and access to available resources.

An email consultation with the international research community took place via well-known online/internet-based networks in December 2011, advising of the project and inviting advice and information about ethics issues and initiatives relevant to the development of an International Charter and Ethical Guidance.  A total of 66 responses were received from researchers working in a range of different contexts who shared experience, questions, resources and offers to be further involved in an international dialogue about the best way forward with the International Charter and Ethical Guidance.

An expert project advisory group was convened in April 2012, comprised of leading international researchers to provide feedback and guidance on drafts of the Ethics Charter and Ethical Guidance.

An extensive consultation process undertaken with nearly 400 researchers and other stakeholders, in a wide range of regions and organisations internationally, on the draft Ethics Charter and Ethical Guidance. The consultation resulted in extensive feedback from approximately 100 individuals or organizations, which in turn emphasized the need for a more expansive ERIC compendium, accompanying website, as well as the development of tailored training activities.

In addition, the project has also involved:

Detailed mapping of existing Charters and Guidelines to identify content and approaches, including main areas of focus as well as any gaps in ethical principles, practice or methodological approaches.

Collation, review and analysis of existing ethics systems, guidelines, practices, training programs and resources from different countries, particularly those relevant to a multidisciplinary perspective. Core principles, strengths, gaps and questions arising from these were identified, especially as these relate to the ethics of research involving children and young people.

Production of a comprehensive literature review of research publications related to ethical issues with research involving children, published as Powell, Fitzgerald, Taylor and Graham (2012).

Review of relevant philosophical ethics and governance systems and practices in different local and disciplinary contexts (including strengths and limitations) for consideration in the development of the Ethics Charter and Ethical Guidance.