Young children are researchers: Children aged four to eight years engage in important research behaviour when they base decisions on evidence

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


Whilst young children are affected by educational policy decisions based on research evidence, their abilities to make decisions based on evidence are often disregarded by policymakers and professional adult researchers. This article reports on elements of the Young Children As Researchers (YCAR) project, an interpretive empirical study that sought social justice in the field of early childhood by conceptualising ways in which young children aged four to eight years are researchers and may be considered to be researchers. Adopting a principled approach framed by a ‘jigsaw’ methodology, the YCAR study engaged professional adult researchers (n = 34), young children aged four to eight years (n = 138) and their practitioners (n= 15) in three English primary schools. Drawing on the study findings, this aticle argues that decision-making based on evidence is an important research behaviour undertaken by young children that deserves recognition by policymakers, practitioners and the academy as a potential vehicle for realising children’s participation rights.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24:5
Pages (from-to)705-720
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Issue number5
Early online date2 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2016


Bibliographical note

Jane Murray is Associate Professor and Co-Director at the Centre for Education and Research, University of Northampton, UK. She has published extensively on early childhood education and social inclusion, and is Editor of the International Journal of Early Years Education.


  • Young Children Are Researchers
  • decision-making based on evidence
  • early childhood
  • epistemology
  • jigsaw methodology
  • young children’s participation rights

Cite this