In this article, we report on findings from a critical literature review of qualitative methods in youth-focused research. The articles reviewed cover an array of methods including those used traditionally in qualitative research and others more recently established. We identify methods that involve youth in general and youth marginalized and/or criminalized within institutional structures, more specifically. We explore the ethical implications of researching with youth, institutional and in situ, a theme that emerged in the literature reviewed. We highlight the tensions, challenges, and power issues arising in the context of research with youth. We close with arguments for methods that move youth from the sidelines of research to greater involvement in the research process, including youth contributing to the research design, data collection, and data analysis. We emphasize the need for researchers to engage an ethical research praxis that ultimately finds space in the research process for youth voices to emerge.


Qualitative Research Methods, Research with Youth, Marginalized Youth, Research Ethics, Power Issues in Research with Youth, Risk and Research with Youth, Youth as Co-Researchers

Author Bio(s)

Susan A. Tilley is a Professor at Brock University, Canada. Her research areas include critical pedagogy and anti-racism education, critical White studies, teacher identity, education and incarceration, school-based research, qualitative methodology, research ethics. She teaches courses related to social, cultural and political contexts of education, curriculum theory, teaching pedagogies and qualitative methodologies. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: stilley@brocku.ca.

Leanne Taylor is an Associate Professor at Brock University, Canada. Her research explores racialized identities, particularly mixed-race identities, social justice education, immigrant student aspirations, “at-risk” youth, and marginalized students’ access to and experiences in postsecondary education. She teaches courses addressing diversity and equity issues in schooling and the interrelationship between pedagogy, culture and identity. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: ltaylor3@brocku.ca.


The authors wish to thank Emily Pearson for her work as a research assistant on our project.

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