Engaging with children as co-researchers: challenges, counter-challenges and solutions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Participatory approaches have become de rigueur in social research involving children. A growing trend is research by children where researchers engage (or employ) children as co-researchers or primary researchers. In this paper, we critique the ethical, methodological and practical issues associated with this participatory approach. The discussion is framed around six challenges: (1) Children lack research competence; (2) A comprehensive training programme is required; (3) Insider/outsider perspectives are difficult to balance; (4) Remuneration is complex; (5) Power differentials need to be overcome; and (6) Children need to be protected. For each challenge we propose a counter-challenge. Additionally, we offer pragmatic solutions to the issues raised, so that the paper holds practical utility to social researchers who utilise this type of participatory approach. Overall we argue that despite the approach's inherent challenges, children as researchers are a powerful conduit for other children's voices.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Issue number2
Early online date3 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Children, Co-investigator, participatory approach, Peer researcher, Young people