Title

Ethical research on occupation with children: A call for reflexivity

Start Time

5-10-2012 10:20 AM

End Time

5-10-2012 10:50 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Intent: The intent of this paper is to discuss ethical issues and the importance of reflexivity in the conduct of research on occupation with children, including both general considerations as well as particular issues that arise when using visual methods such as photoelicitation interviews.

Argument: Reflexivity is often used to demonstrate rigour in qualitative research (Finlay, 2002) however, reflexivity is also an important tool to enact ethical research practice (Etherington, 2007; Guillemin & Gillam, 2004; Nutbrown, 2010). While engaged in a research project involving the use of visual methods with children, we discovered that there are many ethical considerations beyond what we could have predicted at the outset. Some of these considerations are important with respect to research with children in general, while others arise more particularly when using visual methods. In particular, the safety, dignity, and voice of children in the research process is of concern.

Framed around the two broad categories of procedural ethics and ethics in practice (Guillemin & Gillam, 2004), five areas of ethical concern were identified (a) Assent or willingness to participate, (b) Informed consent and assent using visual methods, (c) Issues of disclosure, (d) Power imbalances, and (e) Representations of the child. In this paper, we propose a series of reflexive questions that may help to guide researchers as they adopt ethical approaches to research with children. These questions are intended to prompt researcher reflexivity in the hope of revealing ethical moments and points of consideration that may otherwise go unnoticed. Beginning with questions such as these, has the potential to generate additional questions specific to the research, and to encourage reflexivity to permeate through the work.

Importance to Occupational Science: Given the growing interest in researching occupation and occupational constructs (such as occupational identity, participation, and development) with children, the importance of ethical considerations and reflexivity becomes more pertinent.

Conclusion: In this paper, we highlight particular ethical issues that researchers may face when conducting research with children. We propose that researcher reflexivity on ethically important moments lies at the heart of living ethical practice in qualitative research, and that the ideals of enabling child safety, dignity and voice serve as useful guides in the quest for ethical practices in research with children.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What actions might a researcher take to ensure they are practicing ethical research with children?
  2. How might reflexivity assist in promoting ethical research with children at all stages in the research process?
  3. How have you used reflexivity in your experiences researching with children and adults? Has it assisted you in negotiating procedural ethics and ethics in practice?

References

Etherington, K. (2007). Ethical research in reflexive relationships. Qualitative Inquiry, 13, 598-616. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077800407301175

Finlay, L. (2002). “Outing” the researcher: The provenance, process and practice of reflexivity. Qualitative Health Research, 12, 531-545. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/104973202129120052

Guillemin, M., & Gillam, L. (2004). Ethics, reflexivity and ethically important moments in research. Qualitative Inquiry, 10, 261-280. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077800403262360

Nutbrown, C. (2010). Naked by the pool? Blurring the image? Ethical issues in the portrayal of young children in arts-based educational research. Qualitative Inquiry, 17, 3-14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077800410389437

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 5th, 10:20 AM Oct 5th, 10:50 AM

Ethical research on occupation with children: A call for reflexivity

Intent: The intent of this paper is to discuss ethical issues and the importance of reflexivity in the conduct of research on occupation with children, including both general considerations as well as particular issues that arise when using visual methods such as photoelicitation interviews.

Argument: Reflexivity is often used to demonstrate rigour in qualitative research (Finlay, 2002) however, reflexivity is also an important tool to enact ethical research practice (Etherington, 2007; Guillemin & Gillam, 2004; Nutbrown, 2010). While engaged in a research project involving the use of visual methods with children, we discovered that there are many ethical considerations beyond what we could have predicted at the outset. Some of these considerations are important with respect to research with children in general, while others arise more particularly when using visual methods. In particular, the safety, dignity, and voice of children in the research process is of concern.

Framed around the two broad categories of procedural ethics and ethics in practice (Guillemin & Gillam, 2004), five areas of ethical concern were identified (a) Assent or willingness to participate, (b) Informed consent and assent using visual methods, (c) Issues of disclosure, (d) Power imbalances, and (e) Representations of the child. In this paper, we propose a series of reflexive questions that may help to guide researchers as they adopt ethical approaches to research with children. These questions are intended to prompt researcher reflexivity in the hope of revealing ethical moments and points of consideration that may otherwise go unnoticed. Beginning with questions such as these, has the potential to generate additional questions specific to the research, and to encourage reflexivity to permeate through the work.

Importance to Occupational Science: Given the growing interest in researching occupation and occupational constructs (such as occupational identity, participation, and development) with children, the importance of ethical considerations and reflexivity becomes more pertinent.

Conclusion: In this paper, we highlight particular ethical issues that researchers may face when conducting research with children. We propose that researcher reflexivity on ethically important moments lies at the heart of living ethical practice in qualitative research, and that the ideals of enabling child safety, dignity and voice serve as useful guides in the quest for ethical practices in research with children.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What actions might a researcher take to ensure they are practicing ethical research with children?
  2. How might reflexivity assist in promoting ethical research with children at all stages in the research process?
  3. How have you used reflexivity in your experiences researching with children and adults? Has it assisted you in negotiating procedural ethics and ethics in practice?