This article discusses some of the challenges involved in conducting research with children and young people outside of the home and school environments. We respond to the need to develop new child-centred research techniques which move beyond existing power relations among children and adults by anchoring our approach in the idea of mystery. The paper reports on research utilising a mixed-method design which includes one new technique – the Big Brother diary room. We discuss the unpredictable nature of the fieldwork, reflect on the ‘messiness’ of the research process, and critically evaluate our own research design.
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