Dr Adeela ahmed Shafi has new paper published on re-engaging young offenders

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Dr Adeela ahmed Shafi, Senior Lecturer in Education, has had a new paper published entitled Researching young offenders: navigating methodological challenges and reframing ethical responsibilities. The paper appears in the International Journal of Research and Method in Education and is the outcome of a blog post that Adeela originally wrote in 2017. Below is the abstract for the paper.

» Click here to view Adeela’s article in full.


International Journal of Research & Method in EducationYoung offenders’ perceptions of their educational experiences are little researched not least because of methodological and ethical challenges. This article draws on doctoral research on re-engaging young offenders with education and learning in custody, to discuss methodological challenges and managing emergent ethical responsibilities.

Methods based on the principles of connectivity, humanness and empathy (CHE) are crucial methodological tools when interviewing ‘doubly vulnerable’ participants. CHE contributed to rebalancing the power dynamics to elicit rich and credible data. These shifting power imbalances gave way to additional ethical responsibilities with participants who have already experienced challenging social, economic and educational circumstances leading up to their incarceration. This article contributes to a reframing of the notion of being ethical, suggesting ways of reconciling the dilemmas of research in challenging contexts. These include extending a researcher’s ethical responsibilities beyond research and the researcher’s greater power to advocate for less powerful participants.

As we move further into sophisticated methods of qualitative data collection, the more we are facing additional ethical challenges. Researchers are not neutral, value-free objects but carry with them power to give voice to the vulnerable. Greater awareness of these issues may stimulate further research, thereby increasing methodological and ethical knowledge on under-researched groups.

Dr Adeela ahmed Shafi is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Gloucestershire. Adeela coordinates the EU project Re-Engaging Young People in Custodial Settings with Education & Learning: A transnational project with partners in the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany.


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