You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

Children's perspectives on participating in survey research

Published: November 2007


This research report presents findings from a small-scale qualitative study with children and young people aged seven to 15, exploring their views about a range of ethical issues related to taking part in survey research.


Children and young people said they preferred to be told in person, rather than in writing, about any survey in which they might be asked to participate.

They felt it was important to know about:

  • the background to the survey
  • the practicalities involved in taking part
  • what would happen to their answers

The factors that might influence their participation included:

  • the purpose and importance of the research
  • how they felt about the topic
  • the interviewer
  • confidentiality, and the way their answers might be used
  • whether they felt able to answer the questions
  • whether it was voluntary or not - they were more likely to take part if it was

The reasons they gave as to why they might want to end a survey interview early were:

  • the interviewer’s personality and style
  • boredom
  • wanting to do something else
  • questions that were too difficult
  • worries about giving the ‘wrong’ answer
  • questions they did not understand
  • questions that were too personal

Children and young people said they might ask to withdraw their information afterwards because:

  • they were concerned about confidentiality
  • they realised their answer was not correct
  • they regretted giving the information


This survey used qualitative methods, drawing on eight mixed-gender focus groups carried out in four London schools.

Read the report