Between a rock and a soft place: developmental research and the child advocacy process

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Biomedical Research; Child; Child Psychology; Data Collection; Humans; *Patient Advocacy; Research Design




Developmental researchers face a perilous path as they set out to perform research with child advocacy potential. We offer our observations regarding how researchers can navigate the path between science (the "rock") and advocacy (the "soft place"), based on our recent experience as directors of the MacArthur Juvenile Adjudicative Competence Study. Scientific research can be extraordinarily effective in the child advocacy process, but science and advocacy are very different endeavors. Scientific credibility demands impartiality, whereas advocacy is never impartial. For psychological scientists to be effective in conducting research relevant to child advocacy, it is important to maintain our identity as scientists and resist any efforts on the part of others to label this work as advocacy.

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Citation: J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2005 Dec;34(4):619-27. Link to article on publisher's site

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