Deconstructing the Role of Adult Facilitators in Research Led by Young People




young-people led research, adolescent voice, child–adult collaboration, participation and protection


Academia and practice have increased their investment in young peoples’ participation. One key approach has been the shift from extracting data from young people to engaging them as researchers. Drawing on 2 case studies with young Syrian refugees and Bangladeshi young people, this paper critically reflects on the tensions between participation, power, and ethics whilst engaging young people as lead researchers. There are dual objectives to young people-led research: (a) the empowerment of young people as investigators and (b) the study of issues important to young people. If not clearly established from the outset, these objectives may be in conflict. In such projects, the process and methodology work to achieve the aims of the study and young people’s participation. The achievement of both objectives of young people-led research is partially dependent on adult facilitators’ support of the research process. This article explores the role of adult professionals towards achieving the goals of rigorous research and young people’s participation. These tensions commonly surface in research with young people and should be addressed by employing sensitive approaches that recognise young people as competent social actors with the ability to engage in research whilst taking into consideration relevant adult engagement and support.

Author Biography

Patricio Cuevas-Parra, World Vision International

Director, Child Participation and Rights
Advocacy and External Engagement | World Vision International


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