2022 RTP Ethical and legal issues in researching the digitisation of childhood
Applications open: 12/07/2021
Applications close: 30/08/2021
About this scholarship
Research focusing on the digitisation of childhood and young children’s engagement with digital technologies demands a careful and considered ethical and legal approach that respects the full range of children’s rights— including those of privacy, non-discrimination (UNCRC, General Comment 25: Children’s rights in relation to the digital environment)— and interests. Established research guidelines provide a loose ethical framework, however, these often don’t answer the questions and dilemmas facing researchers who are working to understand the impact of digital technologies on the lives of young children. These questions and dilemmas can present complexities which, in this emerging space, have legal and ethical implications, and are challenging to navigate and resolve.
The successful applicant for this PhD scholarship will be conducting research that informs the practices and ethical decision-making occurring in projects running within the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child (www.digitalchild.org.au). Applicants are encouraged to apply from a range of humanities fields including education, sociology or philosophy. A background in legal studies is beneficial but not essential.
The PhD research activities should inform ethical questioning and pragmatic decision-making in relation to capturing children’s digital play and learning; and subsequent data storage, surfacing, analysis and dissemination strategies. Activities would include the development of a comprehensive literature review informing the development of research case studies which draw on survey data and semi-structured interviews with national researchers, and the parents/care providers, educators and children who participate in research.
Researching the impact of digitisation on childhood with an ethic of respect and integrity may draw from key principles described in the European Early Childhood Education Research Association Ethical Code (EECERA, 2014) and should adopt a rights-based perspective. In terms of the latter, Lundy’s model of child participation, which evolved from Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is instructive. The rights of the child are central to Lundy’s model and its intention to focus decision-makers on the distinct, yet interrelated elements of the provision. The four elements are:
• Space: Children must be given safe, inclusive opportunities to form and express their view
• Voice: Children must be facilitated to express their view
• Audience: The view must be listened to.
• Influence: The view must be acted upon as appropriate
These elements and the underpinning principles, ask that researchers embrace ethics throughout the entirety of their project, in a conceptual and methodological sense, and also with a future focus. Arguably, possessing a short, medium, and long-term focus with regards to ethics is of great value for researchers and the individuals and communities with whom they work.
Conceptually, the PhD research program will be framed by the Australian National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, the EECERA (2014) Code for Ethical Conduct and the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics (ECA, 2016). Elements such as the negotiation of young children’s informed consent; their participation in digital data collection; respecting their rights; and honouring their voices in research will be pivotal to the research program. The research will also examine best practices in relation to the collection, use, storage, sharing and dissemination of children’s data, including visual and sensitive data, so as to further the public interest in research and data about children’s digital lives whilst respecting children’s privacy and meeting the highest ethical standards (UNCRC, General Comment 25: Children’s rights in relation to the digital environment). Through consideration of these elements and principles, the PhD research program will support the interrogation of ethical and legal issues surrounding children’s active citizenship and participation in the digital era.
Importantly, the program outcomes should provide greater clarity to the role of ethics and the law in research, and generate guidelines for creating a democratic and equitable process for all involved. Importantly, this critical and timely PhD program will provide greater ethical clarity and support the design of sensitive research which embraces respectful inclusion of young children living in the digital age.
- Future Students
- Faculty of Humanities
- Higher Degree by Research
- Australian Citizen
- Australian Permanent Resident
- New Zealand Citizen
- Permanent Humanitarian Visa
- Merit Based
Total value of the annual scholarships (stipend and fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a. Curtin PhD Stipends are valued at $28,597 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years.
Successful applicants will receive a 100% Fee offset.
All applicable HDR courses
Applicants are encouraged to apply from a range of humanities fields including education, sociology or philosophy. A background in legal studies is beneficial but not essential. The PhD candidate should have an inquiring mind, strong ethical values and integrity as they will be engaged with ethical questioning and pragmatic decision-making in relation to capturing children’s digital play and learning; and subsequent data storage, surfacing, analysis and dissemination strategies. The successful candidate should have strong communication skills and a high standard of academic writing. Their qualitative research skills should include the ability to conduct a comprehensive literature review, and the writing of research case studies which draw on survey data and semi-structured interviews with national researchers, and the parents/care providers, educators and children who participate in research.
If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should email the project lead, expressing your interest (EOI) in this project.
Your EOI email should include your current curriculum vitae, a summary of your research skills and experience and the reason you are interested in this specific project.
Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2022
To enquire about this project opportunity contact the Project lead (listed below).
Name: Associate Professor Karen Murcia
Contact Number: 9266 2150