21st Century, Western society is concerned with 'the rights of the child' (UNCRC, 1989) and has embraced a narrative whereby children should not simply be the subject of research but be active participants. Children are the 'experts in their own lives' (ref) highlights how adults cannot know more about that child's experience and it is presumptuous to allow adults to take charge under the misconception they 'know what is best for them'. However, Punch (Audio) points out that unqualified adults would not be expected to run research projects; this would belittle the years of training researchers have undergone and the experience they draw upon. So why would we presume it is within the capabilities of children?
Nevertheless, one may argue that some children may be capable and we should not discount all children: introduce them to the world of research projects and they will thrive and as 'experts in their own lives' will be better placed than adult researchers. Yet, therein lies the dichotomy/ paradox (whatever the word is): 'some' children is not 'all' children and those select children will not be representative of 'all' children. Like with any survey or research, the results are only reflective of those who actually participated (ref). This is why the nationwide census every 10 years is compulsory. Ironically, ethical considerations such as informed consent and the right to withdraw (BERA, inc article #s) mean not everyone will participate and consequently the data is invariably incomplete. When given an option, conscientious people (adults and children alike) are more likely to have their views and experiences represented (ref?). As so and so (ref) found, the 'good as gold' children produced valid data and the 'nightmare' children were ignorant of what was expected of them. This opens another can of worms, are adult researchers representative of the entire population? I imagine not, also they will be choosing their teams and research fellows, so these so called 'nightmare' kids, even if they want to become researchers will not be accepted onto the necessary courses or be hired even if they do. This could be seen as affirmation that 'all' children should be utilised as researchers, as so and sos project did. However, adult researchers' extensive training in this field ensures an appreciation of ethical considerations and the importance of impartiality. Which brings us full circle to child researchers not having this training. Embracing the 'experts in their own life' mantra means they should be asked about what they think and feel but designing and running the studies should primarily be left to the experts. Otherwise, training and experience counts for nothing.