IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Guidelines and resources for undertaking research with children

Guidance on data protection issues when doing research with children

Templates for information sheets and consent forms

Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC)

If you involve children in your research, a recent development on the ERIC website that may be of interest to you is the opportunity to show public commitment to ethical research involving children by becoming a signatory to the ERIC Charter.

The Ethics of Research with Children and Young People and Ten Topics in Ethical Research 

by Priscilla Alderson - Professor Emerita of Childhood Studies, Social Science Research Unit, Social Research Institute, University College London

Download: The Ethics of Research with Children and Young People: A Practical Handbook

During the 1980s, ethics review of medical research with children gradually became organised, but little was done about social research. Not until 2002 did the British Sociological Association require researchers to submit their protocols to be reviewed by research ethics committees. Many social researchers still tended to say that children benefitted from taking part in their research, there were no risks, and bureaucratic ethics committees were a waste of time.    

In 1995, Barnardo’s commissioned me to write a book about how medical ethics guidelines could be useful to social research with children. My aims were to help researchers to see how ethical standards could help them to increase their reflexive awareness of their relationships with young participants during all stages of their projects, besides helping them to avoid problems. I divided projects into ten stages, Ten Topics, with key questions raised at each stage when considering: first plans, risks and benefits, privacy and confidentiality, selecting participants, funding, aims and methods, giving information, consent, dissemination and potential impact on children of the research reports.   

Virginia Morrow joined me in writing updated versions of the book in 2004 and (published by SAGE) in 2011 and 2020. Each time we included more examples sent in from researchers around the world, showing how they interpreted ethics guidance to meet their specific challenges and contexts.   

We hope UCL researchers will find the book a quick and easy guide to respond to their queries, and that it will help to speed their protocols through the ethics review process. Although the main theme is children and young people, most sections of the book apply to participants of all ages.