Conducting research with children raises significant ethical and practical difficulties; when the context is rural China, where there has been no tradition of qualitative research with children, these become especially heightened. This article, written by a student and her supervisor, introduces a pilot study conducted in 2018 as part of a Master’s degree programme at a Scottish university. The study was designed to trial two child participatory methods with the aim of scaling these up in a full PhD project; the research focused on the experiences and needs of ‘left-behind children’ in a town of South-West China. The study threw up a number of challenges for the student which are explored in the article. Whilst not wishing to over-claim on the basis of a student project, we suggest that these highlight the reality that methodologies and ‘good practice’ guidelines developed in a ‘Western’/’minority world’ context may not always be wholly compatible with a very different research environment such as this one. This conclusion presents a significant challenge for all those who are conducting research with children in the ‘Global South’/’majority world’, as well as for those who are supporting research students who may experience similar dilemmas in the ‘real world’ of research.
- participatory research
- left-behind children
- United Nations
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- majority world