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Life in a lanyard: developing an ethics of embedded research methods in children’s social care

Jenny Lloyd (Safer Young Lives Research Centre, Institute of Applied Social Research, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 11 August 2021

Issue publication date: 26 November 2021




This paper aims to consider the opportunities for embedded methodologies for research into children’s social care and the ethics of this method.


This study draws upon embedded research from a two-year study into developing children’s social work approaches to extra-familial risk. Findings draw upon personal reflections from field notes, case reviews, practice observations and reflections.


Two findings are presented. Firstly, that embedded research provides numerous opportunities to develop child protection systems and practice. Secondly, a number of ethical questions and challenges of the methodology are presented.

Research limitations/implications

This paper draws upon personal reflections from one study and is not intended to be representative of all approaches to embedded research methods.

Practical implications

Two practical recommendations are presented. Firstly, this paper outlines a number of recommendations to university researchers and host organisations on the facilitative attributes for embedded researchers. Secondly, questions are raised to support university ethics boards to assist ethical frameworks for embedded research.


This paper contributes original empirical data to the limited literature on embedded research in children’s services.



The author would like to thank the host organisation for supporting this research and colleagues in his own University, especially Carlene Firmin, Delphine Peace and Rachael Owens.Funding: Funding for this project was provided by the Department for Education’s Innovation Fund.


Lloyd, J. (2021), "Life in a lanyard: developing an ethics of embedded research methods in children’s social care", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 318-331.



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