Rights, power and agency in early childhood research design:
Developing a Rights-Based Research Ethics and Participation Planning Framework

Fiona Mayne
Christine Howitt
The University of Western Australia

Léonie Rennie
Curtin University

Young children’s rights, power and agency in research are dependent on adult agendas that are enmeshed throughout every research project. This paper presents a Rights-Based Research Ethics and Participation Planning Framework that defines and unpacks the components of a rights-based approach to early childhood research. This new framework supports researchers to plan projects that uphold children’s rights, shift the balance of power towards the child, and provide opportunities for children to exercise voice and agency. The Planning Framework provides guidance from project conceptualisation to implementation through a three-stage process focusing on ethical foundations, practical design considerations and implementation of rights-based research. The first stage of this Planning Framework relates to the overall research design, the researcher’s perspective of children’s capacities and the child’s perspective of the research culture. The second stage highlights key considerations for designing research that supports children’s rights and agency. The third stage discusses implementation and the range of participation levels accessible to young children in research. The paper concludes with insight into how the Planning Framework can be used as a step-by-step process, and insight into the link between appropriately communicated information and young children’s rights, power and agency within research participation.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 43 Number 3 September 2018.

Don’t forget, the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood is tax deductible for early childhood professionals.