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The overall purpose of the ERIC project is to journey with researchers as they pursue and refine research approaches that respect the rights, dignity and wellbeing of children. ERIC assumes that ethics is much more than procedural compliance with a prescribed set of rules or code of conduct that can deliver good or safe research in any given context. While such codes play an important role, the ERIC approach recognises the many ways in which researchers’ own knowledge, beliefs, assumptions, values, attitudes and experience intersect with ethical decision-making. As such, ERIC requires critical reflection; cross-cultural, inter-sectoral and cross-disciplinary dialogue; context-specific problem-solving; and international collaboration, learning and engagement.

In order to safeguard and promote the rights, dignity and wellbeing of children in and through research, ERIC calls on researchers and the research community to be open, reflexive and collaborative in their ethical decision-making, and to be mindful of the relational aspects of research ethics. The ERIC approach is underpinned by the core ethical principles of respect, benefit and justice.

The ERIC approach:

  • views children and young people as persons in their own right and as worthy and capable of recognition, respect and voice in research;
  • acknowledges the right of children and young people to have a say and to be heard, as afforded to them under the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC);
  • assumes children’s involvement in any kind of research takes place in partnership with caring, skilled adults who need to provide appropriate support and guidance;
  • underlines the importance of research focused on understanding and improving children’s lives and circumstances across all contexts;
  • engages critically with well-attested ethical principles of respect, benefit and justice; and
  • promotes the importance of dialogue and a more reflexive approach in attending to the complex ethical issues that can emerge with research involving children.