Involving young people

Young people can be involved in all aspects of research whether it is online or offline. This requires consideration at an early stage in a research project. Involving young people when a project is up and running can mean that their expertise is not fully utilised at the crucial development stage.

Involving young people in research as co-producers

There are lots of ways that young people can be involved in research. For example, they can:

  • Advise on the overall research project at all stages of the process
  • Contribute to developing questions or areas of enquiry
  • Design digital tools and methodology
  • Identify ethical and e-safety issues
  • Undertake data collection
  • Be involved in analysing data and producing findings
  • Provide peer to peer support
  • Produce research outputs
  • Be involved in dissemination to policy makers, researchers and practitioners
  • Contribute to knowledge exchange and dialogue around findings
  • Use research in collective advocacy, campaigning and activism.

Exploring how to use digital media in research provides an opportunity to think how young people can be involved as co-producers. Many of these apply equally to traditional offline research.

Ten points to consider

  • Think of ways to harness young people’s enthusiasm
  • Don’t assume that all young people are skilled in using digital media
  • Create opportunities for young people to develop their skills in using digital media and in research
  • Ensure that online and offline aspects will complement each other
  • Consider resource implications of supporting young people as co-researchers, e.g. time, travel costs, equipment, training, staff time, rewards/payments for young researchers
  • Be clear about what you can realistically achieve and what you can’t. Balance fantastic ideas with realistic expectations
  • Decide at the outset whether and how young people’s participation will be acknowledged and rewarded
  • Have a wide and inclusive recruitment process
  • Be clear about everyone’s roles and responsibilities in the research process
  • Try things out, keep it lively and don’t do the same thing over and over again.
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“The approach of putting something up on a social media site and expecting the work to be done on dissemination is not realistic. The attention that we’ve always given to how we disseminate our findings should be given as well to using the online world.”
Susan Elsley, University of Edinburgh