Workshop: Engaging with Qualitative Data in Studies of Childhood, Education and Youth

On 20 September 2019, we hosted a workshop with members from the community, government and non-government sectors on Engaging with Qualitative Data in Studies of Childhood, Education and Youth.

The workshop explored how collections of qualitative research data from studies in childhood and youth might be more effectively engaged by external parties and potential end-users. A key question was how policy groups, practitioners and other stakeholders might better engage with the outcomes of qualitative research, and how this data might be better curated and communicated to meet their needs.

The workshop showcased the SOCEY website and archive, and asked participants to provide feedback on the available data and how it could be best curated and presented. It included introductory presentations from the SOCEY team, followed with a broad discussion guided by the following questions:

  • What are the challenges and opportunities you see in your organisation for drawing on qualitative research data on young people as part of your advocacy agendas?
  • What type of qualitative data, and what type of qualitative studies, are likely to be of most value to you?
  • In what ways do you see qualitative data to be of use for the work of advocacy, priority setting and policy formulation?
  • How might the SOCEY website and its collections of archived qualitative research data be engaged by your organisation?
  • How could this content be best structured and curated to meet your needs?

The workshop was attended by colleagues from the university sector as well as 15 representatives from the following organisations:

  • Commonwealth Department of Education and Training
  • Victorian Department of Health & Human Services
  • City of Darebin
  • City of Moreland
  • The Smith Family
  • Save the Children
  • Brotherhood of St Laurence
  • Centre for Multicultural Youth
  • Community Child Care
  • Catholic Education Commission Victoria
  • Independent Schools Victoria
  • Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network
  • Northern Schools Early Years Cluster

The discussions were very engaged and provided an excellent basis for developing our work in this area further. Overall, there was unanimous interest in and support for the SOCEY website and archive in principle, although participants raised concerns about the practical and ethical challenges this presented, including issues of anonymity, quality control and monitoring use. They pointed to the importance of making the data and findings accessible and easily searchable in the repository, and including important information around the geographic focus of the research and the scope and purpose of the data collected.

Drawing on this feedback, we will continue to develop the website and archive, and work to develop and extend cross sector collaborations and engagements.

The workshop was supported by funding from the Australian Research Data Commons and the Economic and Social Participation Research Initiative (ESPRIt) at the University of Melbourne. We are also grateful for the continuing support of the Australian Data Archive, SCIP and MGSE.