Loughborough University
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‘They are too young to understand health' a researchers reflexive account of researching with under fives

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-09-08, 10:26 authored by Julie StirrupJulie Stirrup
Qualitative research is an inherently complex landscape which continually presents researchers with difficult, ethically challenging dilemmas. This paper foregrounds some of those challenges, experienced during a qualitative research study which focused on preschool children’s opportunities to access different forms of play in early year education settings and the impact of this on their learner identities and understandings of health. Specifically, the paper focuses on the challenges faced by the researcher when addressing issues of access, including dealing with gatekeepers and the influence they potentially have upon the meaning and authenticity of the data collected. The analyses explore how well the three methods (interviews, structured activities and observations) employed to ensure that the voices of young children, rather than those of gatekeepers and other adults, were captured by the research process, reflected their views, and recognized them as active, embodied, social agents.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Sport, Education and Society


STIRRUP, J., 2017. ‘They are too young to understand health’ a researchers reflexive account of researching with under fives. Sport, Education and Society, 24 (4), pp.361-374.


© Taylor & Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date


Publication date



This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sport, Education and Society on 12 September 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13573322.2017.1376639.






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