Yesterday, Sian Jones presented a talk on our research methods at the BPS Division for Educational and Child Psychology Annual Conference, 2013. The abstract of her talk, and a link to the presentation are below.
Claire L. Fox, Siân E. Jones, Hayley Gilman, Katie Wright-Bevans, Lucy James, Toni Karic, & Victoria Caines
School of Psychology, Keele University, UK
Purpose: This paper aims to provide an overview of the methodological issues that arise when working with children, rather than adults, to examine a sensitive subject.
Background: Although much research is conducted with children, there is a paucity of papers which examine the ways in which the challenges of such research differ from research with adults, or which focus on specific issues that arise, or how these may be tackled. This paper aims to address this deficit by discussing methodological issues which arose during an ESRC longitudinal research project on humour styles and bullying.
Key Points: Three key challenges will be discussed, namely, (a) access, relationships, and classroom management, (b) ethical issues, and (c) research design. Each challenge will be discussed in terms of the issues that were faced, and the strategies that were used to overcome them.
Conclusions: It may be concluded that research with children has different challenges when compared to research with adults, and that greater discourse among researchers surrounding these issues would benefit future research practice.
The talk was well-received by a small but engaged audience, as we discussed some of the issues surrounding our research. A particular issue was how we work with schools, to get children the help with bullying that they’ve asked for, in our confidential questionnaires. Some felt that we could be more directive in advising schools of the specific way to deal with children who asked for help . We chose to leave this decision to the school staff – but the discussion shows that any decision taken along these lines has to strike a very difficult balance between researcher and ‘expert’.