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Ethical Research Involving Children

Youth participation in qualitative research: Challenges and possibilities.

Schelbe, L., Chanmugam, A., Moses, T., Saltzburg, S., Williams, L. R., & Letendre, J. (2015). Youth participation in qualitative research: Challenges and possibilities. Qualitative Social Work, 14(4), pp. 504-521.

Research often excludes youth participants, omitting their social and psychological realities, undermining their rights to participate and benefit from research, and weakening the validity of research. Researchers may be discouraged from including youth due to logistical (e.g. gaining access) or ethical (e.g. coercion risks based on developmental level) concerns. Increased discussion is needed around appropriate methods to use with child and youth participants that manage challenges related to developmental capacities, legal status, power differentials, and unpredictable aspects of qualitative research. This paper pools experiences of six researchers, describing solutions we have developed in studies employing varied qualitative methodologies with varied vulnerable youth subpopulations. We detail successful approaches to access, compensation, consent, assent, and confidentiality. Social work researchers are well suited to navigate the challenges, and we share our examples with the aim of facilitating increased youth participation in research.

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The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Qualitative Social Work, 14(4), 2015 by SAGE Publications, Ltd., All rights reserved. © SAGE Publications, Ltd.

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