Researching young people

A Victoria University education expert has entered the public debate on the ethics of researching young people.

Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning's Associate Professor Kitty te Riele authored a piece on The Conversation addressing complex issues of consent.

"Ethics by their very nature are tricky – if the morally right thing to do was clear-cut, we wouldn't need to have ethical deliberations," Associate Professor te Riele said. "They are even trickier in research that involves young people."

In university research, the Human Research Ethics Committee decides on such issues based on the values of research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect.

But Associate Professor te Riele said applying these principles to youth research raised specific questions, for example over who should give consent for taking part in research and how blurred public/private boundaries in internet and mobile research affect confidentiality.

Associate Professor te Riele recently guest edited Youth Studies Australia's special issue about youth research ethics, along with Professor Rachel Brooks from the University of Surrey, UK.

Other issues explored include the link between research ethics and youth work ethics; the responsibility of researchers to show care; and the use of extrinsic and intrinsic incentives.

A wider and more international range of papers will appear in the book "Negotiating ethical challenges in youth research", edited by Professor te Riele and Professor Brooks, to be published by Routledge early in 2013.

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