To cite: Juelis, J. (2022). JYLR – Carving out a space in academia for the youth. International Journal of Youth-Led Research, 2(1).
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Youth Research Vox,
Los Angeles, CA, U.S.
JYLR – carving out a space in academia for the youth
As a teacher, researcher, and now founder of Do.Think.Learn, my world leans heavily on educational research. Yet, that world always has seemed incomplete. The voices and perspectives of adults have long dominated educational research. Those researchers peer into or visit the lives of students long enough to collect myriad types of data, before returning to academia and the world of adults. They ask adult questions and interpret data with adult perspectives; outsiders looking in to see what they want or can see. As a result, this research has missed out on a rich resource – the voices and perspectives of students. We can extend this problem beyond educational research into numerous fields of research.
The research that dominates academia and professional realms reflects an adult world and often minimizes the voices of youth. Almost across the board, adults dismiss the questions, concerns, and perspectives of students: too young, too naive, not learned enough... Ego from age and experience too often limits what adults consider credible and valid information. Thankfully not everyone has succumbed to the narrow minded perspectives of adulthood. The International Journal of Youth-Led Research (JYLR) has emerged to transform research by adding the voices of youth across the world.
The first instance of enlisting students in the research process I remember seeing involved Shirley Brice Heath (1983) training teenagers as ethnographers of their own experiences, which added an engaging layer of information for those of us reading the articles that resulted from that work. However I always wondered how those students responded to the opportunity and how their perspectives influenced the direction of the research. Training youth to collect data provides agency and empowers individuals. Yet, that only marks a big first step.
Peer reviewed research represents the gold standard for meaningful and credible studies. By developing the practice of peer review in a youth research collective, Youth Research Vox not only prepares young adults for potential pathways in their future, but carves out a space and place for their voices to be heard. Instead of lowering the standards for youth to publish their work, JYLR has established professional grade policies that support work comparable to university level research.
The goal of research is to add to the understanding of a specific topic, question, or field of study. The International Journal of Youth-Led Research adds diversity to our understanding across a range of fields. While the process and products that result from conducting research and publishing findings will certainly add to the topics under study; more importantly however, the agency gained from such training and experience will have an even greater impact on the youth involved.
Youth have important ideas and want a say in their world. They want to contribute to conversations and craft solutions. They want to make a difference. When adults listen more and ask for their perspectives, the youth rise to the occasion. Few experiences empower youth more than realizing that their voice matters. Empowering students stands as one goal of education. Institutions of learning do this by developing an array of skills and providing experiences for youth that replicate professions and the world beyond school. While still a nascent institution, the International Journal of Youth-Led Research provides youth with opportunities to develop professional expertise while also empowering them through the peer review research and publication experience.
Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and words in communities and classrooms. Cambridge University Press. https://books.google.com/books/about/Ways_with_Words.html?id=ZvwEDOhLbpEC