The Young Lives team take a positive view of research ethics as enabling high-quality research, and we have developed a shared understanding of research ethics. Our approach to ethics has been developed collaboratively with our research teams, following fieldworker training, piloting and reports from fieldworkers after each round of visits to our study sites.
Formal ethics approval
The proposal for Young Lives was checked against the ethics standards of its six original partner institutions, and received approval from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ethics committee. Young Lives has subsequently received approval from the following ethics committees
- Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa (2002, for piloting in S.Africa)
- Social Science Division, University of Oxford (since 2005)
- IIN Peru (since 2002)
- Hanoi School of Public Health Research (since 2015)
- CESS Hyderabad (since 2015)
- Ethiopia: College of Health Sciences, pending.
Young Lives uses the following research ethics guidance:
A Memorandum of Understanding for fieldworkers was developed, setting out basic guidance about respectful communication with participants. This has been used at each round for all teams. Research teams undergo training on research ethics, and fieldwork manuals contain ethics guidance. During fieldwork, ethics questions are recorded, transcribed and translated (for qualitative research) and documented (for the survey). Research ethics is seen as the responsibility of all researchers, and concerns and responses are monitored.
Informed consent is obtained from everyone involved - children, young people, caregivers (including in certain situations, young women's mothers/fathers in-law), and others in the community. Fieldworkers explain the research in ways that enable children to understand. In Young Lives study countries, children are generally taught from an early age that they must obey adults, which may make it difficult for them to refuse. Every effort is made not to put pressure on children to participate, and to make it clear that there will be no adverse consequences for them if they decline. Anonymity and confidentiality are promised to all participants.