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  1. Motivations and expectations for young people’s involvement:

The group discussed some of the challenges of maintaining young people’s involvement and motivation throughout the research process, and the expectations adult researchers have about how and when young people will participate – with the latter often influenced by research priorities.  Young people’s involvement might be fluid and researchers need to be flexible to enable young people to participate in different ways at different stages of the research, and according to their own priorities and preferences.  For example, from questionnaire design or data analysis to designing the logo and branding of the research team.  Expectations may also differ between gatekeepers, young people and researchers – which triggered a further discussion about planning for the unexpected.

  1. Planning for the unexpected:

The group discussed examples of times when the research took an unexpected direction or different priorities came to the fore and created unanticipated consequences.  Specifically, adult gatekeepers may not ‘like’ the results from a study based on young people’s perspectives. Reconciling differences between adult gatekeepers (especially in the school context) can be difficult, especially when young people’s perspectives challenges the status quo.  We also discussed situated ethical issues and how ethics committees can be a barrier to young people’s involvement – highlighting the importance of a transparent and honest approach to young people’s engagement in research.

  1. Being honest:

The importance of being honest was highlighted by the group, which included a full discussion of the research and its limits with young people from the outset of the study.  Discussion of this kind would help to manage differing expectations and make research-related decision-making transparent.  The latter is especially important when young people’s expectations might depart from the governance and funding requirements, including (rigid) timeframes that can set limits to what might be achievable and feasible in the context of the research. 

  1. We shared a lot of different, separate and heterogenous research approaches, backgrounds, trajectories, career stages, etc. It was nice to share a space where people were picking out bits of the event that would help them in their own practice.
  2. It was also nice to come together with a group of heterogenous researchers and just share a space of talking about our work and methods
  3. There were unexpected opportunities to network, share and connect that followed the discussion
  4. There is really fertile ground in these sessions for building networks on a person-to-person basis and I expect a lot of people finish the event and then email someone they met, or the speaker. I had emails from people asking for us to meet up and chat.

Chairs and Speakers

Profile picture of Benjamin Hanckel
Benjamin Hanckel, Dr

Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow - Digital Health and Youth, Institute for Culture and Society at University Western Sydney

Dr Benjamin Hanckel (he/him) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Benjamin’s research examines youth health and wellbeing, social inequalities in health, and social change. His work...

Profile picture of Ben Bowman
Ben Bowman, Dr

Lecturer in Youth Justice at Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Benjamin Bowman is Lecturer in Sociology at  Manchester Metropolitan University and a member of the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies. He is an interdisciplinary researcher with an interest in young people’s everyday lives, everyday...

Profile picture of Grace Spencer
Grace Spencer, Dr

Associate Professor Young People, Health and Social Equity at Anglia Ruskin University

Grace is an Associate Professor in Young People, Health and Social Equity at the Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.  Her research focuses on young people's health and their...