This guide lays out the case for participatory research with children, as well as explaining key research design principles and methods.

Author:  Dorothea Kleine, Gemma Pearson and Sammia Poveda

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Research that treats children merely as respondents to heavily adult-framed research is likely to miss key aspects of their lives, so participation can raise research quality. Further, from a rights-based perspective, children should be allowed to actively participate in research designed to inform policy that will shape their future. We offer an overview of the diverse methods available, including drawing, storytelling, digital photography, participatory audio or video, SMS surveys, as well as research, monitoring and evaluation co-led by children.

Cross cutting these methodological approaches are the principles of participatory research, such as considering carefully the unequal life realities of children in the same country, often resulting in additional efforts having to be undertaken to amplify the voices of otherwise overlooked groups. This also involves recognising the different levels of digital literacies along gender, class, education and rural/urban lines. Ethical considerations also play a role where children are asked to produce online content and use digital images responsibly. Overall, participatory methods tend to involve longer-term, intense relationships between researchers and children that require careful framing and are often best undertaken with local partners.

The guide also includes: a checklist with key steps to consider when planning participatory research with children and a list of key resources.

All resources developed by Global Kids Online, including this report, are available under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC) and can be used only for non-commercial purposes and with attribution.

The preferred citation for this report is:

Kleine, Dorothea, Pearson, Gemma, & Poveda, Sammia (2016) Participatory methods: Engaging children’s voices and experiences in research. London: Global Kids Online. Available from:


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