Be Respectful

Posted on April 14, 2008

David Elkind (bio) explains why thoughtfulness for participants is crucial.


I think it’s important always, and this is dealing with subjects, to be thoughtful and respectful of subjects and certainly be thoughtful and respectful of the schools that you go into. I would make sure that everybody knows where I am when I’m in there and when I leave, that I always am careful to introduce myself to teachers and always try to give and return a talk to parents or something at the schools I work with.

I think sometimes I’ve seen a kind of view of the people we work with as subjects and nonhuman kind of things. And I think it’s very important that subjects are human and are due courtesy and respect and all of those things, and that’s very important. And also the context in which we work, whether we’re — the people who work in the schools, the principals, all those people have to be notified. You should be professional about it, and that’s one of the kind of things I teach my students when I’m working in schools.

And working with children, it’s so important, it seems basic to establish rapport and to talk about and get their name, and find out a little bit about them, and when their birthday is, and what they got for their birthday, just break the ice a little bit before you go into your things. And I think it’s important for any kind of research before you, to prepare your subjects, to make them at ease, try to help them to understand what the project is about and why you’re doing it to the extent that you can so that they’re cooperative participants in the procedure.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.


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