Guidance Paper 2: Obtaining Consent in Research involving Children – Understanding the Legal and Ethical Framework

Guidance Paper 2: Obtaining Consent in Research involving Children – Understanding the Legal and Ethical Framework
National Centre for Research Methods, 2023
Open Access
This guidance paper describes the importance of obtaining consent from and on behalf of child participants involved in research. It is Guidance Paper 2 in the series The Ethics of Research Involving Children: Common Questions, Potential Strategies and Useful Guidance. Ethical research considers the international and domestic law, as well as ethical and professional, obligations towards ensuring that participants provide valid consent. Issues around consent are paramount in research ethics applications. The law and ethics of consent are not just about ensuring that the child is fully aware of the implications of his or her involvement in the research and is kept safe (which might necessitate obtaining consent also from adults with parental responsibility); it is equally about ensuring that overly paternalistic approaches to consent are avoided, as such approaches may unintentionally undermine children’s autonomy and prevent children from making decisions and expressing themselves on their own terms. As the ESRC notes in its ethical guidance: “Researchers should consider the ethics implications of silencing and excluding children from research.” Beazley et al. (2009: 370) refer to this as children’s right to be ‘properly researched’ which ‘translates into: children being participants in research; using methods that make it easy for them to express their opinions, views and experiences; and being protected from harm’…

Editor’s note: The national Centre for Research Methods delivers a programme of research methods training across the UK. The ESRC referenced stands for the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s