Ethics in Research Involving Children: Article Review

Posted: November 7th, 2023

Ethics in Research Involving Children: Article Review

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Department and Academic Institution



November 7, 2023

Ethics in Research Involving Children: Article Review

Slide One: Introduction

The audience for my speech is my academic peers, a group of individuals that understand their future work will involve research with children. Numerous research on ethics in research involving children have been done, identifying salient issues, such as informed consent and the right to withdraw. However, changes in the education sector following the coronavirus pandemic highlight that existing methodological imperatives for literacy research for children require rethinking. Reflexivity and research methods profoundly change during times of uncertainty, requiring educators and researchers to change their methodological orientations.

Slide Two: Background Information

The world is no longer stable to guarantee the applicability of conventional methods in participatory research. Coming to terms with the impacts of wildfires and the death of George Floyd on global society during the pandemic is key to practitioners reimagining how they should conduct literacy research (Lee, 2022). My audience should realize that the world is complex and under a constant state of change. Such an attribute challenges existing methodological and epistemological approaches to literacy research involving children. Researchers must go beyond institutional barriers to intensify their consideration of how ethical imperatives and current research methods facilitate justice-oriented literacy research.

Slide Three: Article Summary

            The topic under discussion is the ethical perplexities of conducting research with children in uncertain times. The debate hypothesizes that the ethics of researching with children are interlinked with assumptions pertaining to children’s voices, representation, and relational dynamics (Lee, 2022). In this presentation, Bakhtinian dialogical approaches are applied to reflect on the assumptions’ applicability. The assessment answers whether the assumptions are complete, meaning they are responsive, open, and sensitive in establishing dialogic relationships between the children and researchers. The findings of the discussion will articulate ways researchers can go beyond established institutional and professional guidelines to enhance the quality of their research involving children.

Slide Four: Article Summary

The primary objective is to challenge how existing literacy practices reinforce racial and class inequities through research. Years of practical research inform that literacy practices that disrupt dominant framings of education tend to offer opportunities for positive social transformation. One of the main ethical problems in conventional research involving children is the notion that the participants should be given a voice (Lee, 2022). However, there is no way to interact with the children in uncertain times. The researcher does not have the opportunity to observe the participants to draw conclusions. There is equally no opportunity to engage in dialogue with the research participants. Literacy research often assumes that the researcher will be physically close to the children (Lee, 2022). Such an approach would result in inaccuracies in how children make sense of the world during uncertain times.

Slide Five: The Problem in Participatory Research

The author of the subject article is asking the audience to reimagine how data collection in research involving children should change in times when the researcher and participants cannot have physical relationships. A failure to reimagine literacy research for uncertain times introduces new ethical and practice gaps for researchers (Lee, 2022). The author laments that after years of research practice, studies during the coronavirus pandemic made them more aware of how having control of the research narratives could impede the reliability and accuracy of findings (Lee, 2022). The problem with participatory research involving children is that it has lagged in keeping pace with societal changes, especially the new forms of meaning-making that children employ.

Slide Six: The Problem in Participatory Research

            Research involving children is rigged with assumptions concerning how the participants perceive the world and adult-child relationships. Adult researchers tend to assume to have knowledge about the dynamics of children’s voices and whether they can access children’s opinions (Lee, 2022). Technological advancements in contemporary research suggest reduced opportunities for face-to-face interactions with research participants. Online interviews require the research to have a comprehensive understanding of the diversity in meaning-making approaches. The skill entails the ability to assess images, photographs, digital writing, and even emojis in interpreting the feelings and perceptions of children. The emergence of new sources of data collection presents some ethical concerns regarding the reliability and accuracy of findings based on children interviews.

Slide Seven: Contextual Meaning-Making

            A different approach to contextual meaning making is required to better understand the problems facing children and their worldviews. Uncertain times tend to position researchers in spaces of immense responsibility as they have to question the participants’ voices, relationships, analysis, representation, and consent (Lee, 2022). The author’s experience shows the importance of the researcher and participants occupying the same time and space for more accurate and effective ontological research. When the two parties cannot establish such a physical relationship, the context of the study changes. Moreover, there is the added risk of integrating an adult perspective or misinterpreting findings.

Slide Eight: Bakhtin’s Dialogical Principles

            It is essential for researchers working with children to consider the three dialogical principles to ensure the proper representation of the participants. The first principle is called the ‘Not the I’d but the other’, which rejects the assertion that people possess an unchanging inner self (Lee, 2022). All human beings develop their sense of self dialogically, meaning individual responses to the environment and others shape them. The way other people respond to us also influences our sense of self. With such an understanding, research involving children should always acknowledge that the participants are constantly becoming. The idea should make the researcher cautious about concepts of autonomy or children being perceived as self-knowing individuals.

Slide Nine: Bakhtin’s Dialogical Principles

            A dialogic approach to scientific study makes solid attempts to prevent problematic presuppositions that children have a comprehensive understanding of events that have taken place in their lives up to the present. While the children represent active research participants with the cognitive and emotional competency to provide informed consent, they may be unable to describe, assess, and convey their feelings. Bakhtin’s first principle argues that interacting with a diversity of otherness is critical in forming self-knowledge (Lee, 2022). Researchers should recognize that children might not have had sufficient experience with otherness to define their sense of self. Their utterances might be the opinions or values of others. The gap introduces a new responsibility for the researcher.

Slide Ten: Bakhtin’s Dialogical Principles

It is up to the professional to create new spaces for children to open up and explore their sense of self. The problem is that conventional researcher continues to fail to integrate such responsibility in research involving children. The dialogic approach moves away from the simple understanding that research involving children only requires expert voices (Lee, 2022). Authentic research avoids taking what the children say as wholesome communication. The information cannot be taken at face value to inform policies. If research considers children’s voices as authentic, then there is the risk of over-simplifying and reinforcing what society believes it already knows.

Slide Eleven: Bakhtin’s Dialogical Principles

            The filtering of children’s utterances requires a commitment to reflecting and negating personal interpretations. Bakhtin’s second principle emphasizes the importance of context in the elucidation of children’s voices. The principle rejects the presupposition that communication is single-voiced (Lee, 2022). One individual cannot encapsulate an entire experience or emotion in words and transmit the message to another, who then establishes an equal understanding of the experience. Context has to be included in how people treat meanings and deliberations on the intent behind the communication. It is for the researcher to look at the children’s gestures, words, images, and artifacts to generate an understanding of their meaning-making process.

Slide Twelve: Bakhtin’s Dialogical Principles

Lee’s (2022) article includes another principle on the dialogic approach that I think all researchers working with children should integrate into their work. The dialogic approach entails a refusal to finalize. The principle refers to a position of humility on the researcher’s part because they acknowledge that they can never have the last word regarding someone else’s identity or worldview (Lee, 2022). Working with children demands a dedication to radical openness. Dialogic research is unpredictable, which is why the researcher should remain open and never shy away from engaging children in difficult and painful discussions. The research approach never assumes that children’s voices and issues are simple, non-controversial, or have simple solutions. It is for the researcher to reflect and have ethical forethought.

Slide Thirteen: Reflection

All the mentioned new responsibilities in dialogic research imply that it is an unhurried process. I believe dialogic research will become more popular and practical with time in education. Since the coronavirus pandemic, planning for periodic disruptions to the education system is prudent. Moreover, the global society has gradually moved to remote learning, which reduces opportunities for physical proximity. Researchers will have fewer opportunities to work with children on a physical basis. Researchers working with children must become acquainted with multimodal research methods. Multiple methods are necessary in providing children with the opportunity to be comfortable and open about their experiences.

Slide Fourteen: Reflection

The researchers must also acknowledge the pivotal role of context when interpreting child voices. The researcher might follow the child’s lead to avoid making the participant feel pressured into articulating inaccurate feelings. Still, they should never consider the process as simply capturing points of view (Lee, 2022). The objective is to develop the skill of tentative meaning-making and patients to allow a careful analysis of children’s opinions over time as opposed to the execution of swift conclusions. Moreover, research with children should focus not on their orientations but on the dynamic process of becoming. Such an emphasis should lead the researcher to acknowledge that research with children is relational, nascent, and the outcome of fluid and situated activities.

Slide Fifteen: Conclusion

            I hope you now have a better understanding of how research involving children has changed in recent years. Lee’s (2022) article has shown the importance of moving away from the traditional, structured approaches to research involving children. The dialogic approach emphasizes openness and context. Such a research methodology is better suited for the changes the education system is taking. Educators are responsible for sharing the new understanding of the researchers’ role to better advance the interests of children. Participatory research is now about allowing children to explore their sense of self and epistemic worldviews instead of taking their experiences at face value. The researcher avoids anticipating correct answers and uses their experience and knowledge to interpret hidden cues in the children’s utterances. It is time that researchers accept the important role they play in meaning-making in research involving children.


Lee, C. (2022). Ethical perplexities of researching with children in uncertain times: A dialogic approach. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 31 (1), 124-147.

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