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Research Ethics

Research Ethics

eISSN: 20476094 | ISSN: 17470161 | Current volume: 20 | Current issue: 2 Frequency: Quarterly

Research Ethics provides a platform for sharing experiences and analysis of ethical issues that are related to the design, conduct, impact and oversight of research. Through open and transparent narrative and analysis of ethical issues in research, it serves to raise awareness, challenge assumptions and help find solutions for complex ethical issues.

Ethical issues are not limited to a specific discipline or type of research. The Editors welcome submissions from any research field (for instance, biomedical, social science, environmental, information technology, or the arts) and a broad range of methodological approaches (for instance, clinical trials, animal experimentation, qualitative studies, laboratory or desk-based research).

Some examples of the topics addressed in Research Ethics include:

  • Ethical issues related to the inclusion of vulnerable populations in research
  • Ethics dumping
  • Benefit sharing
  • Ethical issues related to social media research
  • Research integrity and research misconduct
  • The education and training of researchers and ethics reviewers
  • The development and implementation of governance mechanisms

In addition to these applied ethics issues, the journal also welcomes original theoretical papers that contribute to the debate around the normative underpinnings or ethical frameworks for research ethics.

Research Ethics publishes original papers and review articles as well as informative case studies and offers a home for submissions from authors from around the world. The quality of submitted articles is evaluated independently by double-blind peer review.

This journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Research Ethics is aimed at readers and authors who are interested in ethical issues associated with the design and conduct of research, the regulation of research, the procedures and process of ethical review and issues related to scientific integrity. The journal aims to promote, inspire, host and engage in open and public debate about research ethics on an international scale and to contribute to the education of researchers and reviewers of research.

Research Ethics offers a home for submissions from authors from around the world and publishes original papers and review articles as well as informative case studies. The quality of submitted articles is evaluated independently by double-blind peer review.

Edward Dove University of Edinburgh, UK
Associate Editors
Julie Cook University of Central Lancashire, UK
Melissa McCradden University of Adelaide, Australia
Stuart Rennie UNC Chapel Hill, United States
Owen Schaefer Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
Rebecca Tapscott University of York, UK
Emma Tumilty University of Texas Medical Branch, USA
International Advisory Board
Kate Chatfield University of Central Lancashire, UK
Zuzana Deans University of Bristol, UK
Véronique Delpire Words & Science, Belgium
Phoebe Friesen McGill University, Canada
Mark Israel Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services, Australia
Dirk Lanzerath University of Bonn, Germany
Jessica Martin Newcastle University, UK
Alan McElligott City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Syntia Munung Nchangwi University of Cape Town, South Africa
Stuart Nicholls Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada
Doris Schroeder University of Central Lancashire, UK
Sandhya Srinivasan Mumbai, India
Samuel Ujewe Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Charles Weijer Western University, Canada
  • Clarivate Analytics: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
  • ProQuest
  • Scopus
  • Manuscript Submission Guidelines: Research Ethics

    This Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.

    Please read the guidelines below then visit the Journal’s submission site to upload your manuscript. Please note that manuscripts not conforming to these guidelines may be returned.

    Only manuscripts of sufficient quality that meet the aims and scope of Research Ethics will be reviewed.

    All articles published in Research Ethics are published fully open access under a Creative Commons licence and available worldwide, with readers having barrier-free access to the full-text articles immediately upon publication. From 1st January 2024, an article processing charge (APC) is levied on all article types that are published in the journal.

    For authors that are currently eligible for an Open Access Agreement at your institution with Sage, your article will be published at either no direct cost to you or at a deeply discounted rate, depending on the terms of the agreement.

    Authors based at institutions in developing countries may also be eligible for an APC waiver, please see our website page on Gold Open Access Article Processing Charge Waivers for further information. Please refer to our page regarding our partnerships around the world if you would like to know more about the Research4Life initiative.

    For authors not eligible for a Sage Open Access Agreement, the APC is USD $500.

    1. Open Access
    2. Article processing charge (APC)
    3. What do we publish?
      3.1 Aims & Scope
      3.2 Article types
      3.3 Writing your paper
    4. Editorial policies
      4.1 Peer review policy
      4.2 Authorship
      4.3 Acknowledgements
      4.4 Declaration of conflicting interests
      4.5 Research ethics and patient consent
      4.6 Clinical trials
    5. Publishing policies
      5.1 Publication ethics
      5.2 Contributor's publishing agreement
    6. Preparing your manuscript
      6.1 Main File
      6.2 Title Page
      6.3 Formatting
      6.4 Language
      6.5 Artwork, figures and other graphics
      6.6 Supplementary material
      6.7 Reference style
      6.8 English language editing services
    7. Submitting your manuscript
      7.1 ORCID
      7.2 Title, keywords and abstracts
      7.3 Information required for completing your submission
      7.4 Permissions
    8. On acceptance and publication
      8.1 Sage Production
      8.2 Online publication
      8.3 Promoting your article
    9. Further information

    1. Open Access

    Research Ethics is an open access, peer-reviewed journal. Each article accepted by peer review is made freely available online immediately upon publication, is published under a Creative Commons license and will be hosted online in perpetuity. 

    For general information on open access at Sage please visit the Open Access page or view our Open Access FAQs.

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    2. Article processing charge (APC)

    For authors not eligible for a Sage Open Access Agreement, the article processing charge (APC) is USD $500.

    3. What do we publish?

    3.1 Aims & Scope

    Before submitting your manuscript to Research Ethics, please ensure you have read the Aims & Scope.

    3.2 Article Types

    Research Ethics publishes original articles and review articles as well as informative case studies on the ethical issues associated with the design and conduct of research, the regulation of research, the procedures and process of ethical review, and issues related to scientific integrity. The journal encourages the submission of the following types of manuscripts:

    1. Original articles: these manuscripts present original empirical content and/or an original theoretical perspective. Submissions that present original empirical content should not exceed 12,000 words (including references). Submissions that present an original theoretical perspective should not exceed 6,000 words (including references). Longer manuscripts may occasionally be considered at the discretion of the Editors.
    2. Topic Pieces: these articles are intended to form a snapshot of, or perspective on, contemporary thinking on a topic or issue in research ethics or research integrity. Submissions of topic pieces should be no longer than 2,000 words (including references). 
    3. Case studies: these articles provide examples of real-world ethical challenges in research or research ethics review, as well as real-world case studies in research integrity or research misconduct. Case studies should include ethics analysis of the identified challenges and, where possible, recommendations for dealing with them. Submissions of case studies should be no longer than 3,000 words (including references).
    4. Review articles: these articles address key issues in research ethics or integrity with a focus on under-researched topics. Rather than introducing new material, review articles offer critical analysis of specific issues in particular areas with significant referencing to existing published literature. Review articles should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words (including references).

    3.3 Writing your paper

    The Sage Author Gateway has some general advice and on how to get published, plus links to further resources. Sage Author Services also offers authors a variety of ways to improve and enhance their article including English language editing, plagiarism detection, and video abstract and infographic preparation.

    3.3.1 Make your article discoverable

    When writing up your paper, think about how you can make it discoverable. The title, keywords and abstract are key to ensuring readers find your article through search engines such as Google. For information and guidance on how best to title your article, write your abstract and select your keywords, have a look at this page on the Gateway: How to Help Readers Find Your Article Online.

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    4. Editorial policies

    4.1 Peer review policy

    Manuscripts submitted for publication in Research Ethics are subject to anonymised peer review.

    Submissions are initially reviewed by the editors, who determine whether the submission meets the basic guidelines (e.g. addresses a topic relevant to research ethics or research integrity, is written in English, and is sufficiently understandable). If so, the editors will consult among themselves to determine if the submission, based on its quality, should go on to peer review. Submissions passing this first level of review will be assigned to at least two peer reviewers with the appropriate expertise. The reviewers assess submissions based on scholarly quality, relevance, timeliness, novelty, importance, engagement with the relevant literature, and similar factors. Upon receipt of the peer review responses, the editors will decide whether the manuscript should be rejected, or accepted with or without required revisions.

    Research Ethics operates a strictly fully anonymous peer review process in which the reviewer’s name is withheld from the author and, the author’s name from the reviewer. The reviewer may at their own discretion opt to reveal their name to the author in their review, but our standard policy practice is for both identities to remain concealed. The desired turnaround time for manuscripts is a maximum of eight weeks from submission to initial decision. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, the editors reserve the right to make minor adjustments (e.g. grammar, tone) and, if necessary, to shorten the manuscript without changing the meaning.

    4.2 Authorship

    All parties who have made a substantive contribution to the manuscript should be listed as authors. Principal authorship, authorship order, and other publication credits should be based on the relative scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their status. A student is usually listed as principal author on any multiple-authored publication that substantially derives from the student’s dissertation or thesis. See also the COPE discussion document on authorship, available here.

    Please note that AI chatbots and Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, do not currently satisfy our authorship criteria. Use of any AI chatbot or LLM in helping prepare a manuscript for submission should be clearly indicated in the manuscript, including which model was used and for what purpose. Please use the methods or acknowledgements section, as appropriate. For more information see the Sage policy on Use of ChatGPT and Generative AI.

    4.3 Acknowledgements

    Contributors or advisors who do not meet the criteria for authorship can be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, general support or feedback on an early draft. Please ensure that persons who are acknowledged have given permission for mention in the article and upload their confirmation (as supplementary materials) at submission.

    4.3.1 Third party submissions

    Where an individual who is not listed as an author submits a manuscript on behalf of the author(s), a statement must be included in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript and in the accompanying cover letter. The statements must:

    • Disclose this type of editorial assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input
    • Identify any entities that paid for this assistance
    • Confirm that the listed authors have authorized the submission of their manuscript via third party and approved any statements or declarations, e.g. conflicting interests, funding, etc.

    Where appropriate, Sage reserves the right to deny consideration to manuscripts submitted by a third party rather than by the authors themselves.

    4.3.2 Writing assistance

    Individuals who provided writing assistance, e.g. from a specialist communications company, do not qualify as authors and so should only be included in the Acknowledgements section. Authors must disclose any writing assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input – and identify the entity that paid for this assistance.

    It is not necessary to disclose use of language polishing services.

    4.4 Declaration of conflicting interests

    It is the policy of Research Ethics to require a declaration of conflicting interests from all authors enabling a statement to be carried within the paginated pages of all published articles.

    The declaration of conflicting interests must be provided at the submission stage in two ways:

    • Authors should provide a full statement disclosing the existence of any financial or non-financial interest within the title page and/or cover letter, which is not sent to reviewers, to detail these and to declare any potential conflicts of interest to the editor.
    • Authors should provide a minimal statement (either "The authors declare the existence of a financial/non-financial competing interest" OR "The authors declare no competing interests") within the anonymised manuscript. The minimal statement will be shared with peer-reviewers and must not include any information which may enable the disclosure of author identities.

    In addition to any declarations in the submission system, all authors are required to include a ‘Declaration of Conflicting Interests’ statement at the end of their published article using one of the following standard sentences:

    • The authors declare the following competing interests.
    • The authors declare no competing interests.

    For guidance on conflict of interest statements, please see Sage’s Publishing Policies and the ICMJE recommendations here.

    4.5 Research ethics and patient approvals

    It is the policy of Research Ethics to require a declaration about research ethics approval enabling a statement to be carried within the paginated pages of all published articles. To ensure anonymous peer-review, please include these details on the title page of your submission. This should include the name of the ethics committee that approved the study and, where possible, the date of approval and reference number of the application.

    Should research ethics approval not be relevant/required for your study/article, please include a statement to this effect at the submission stage, along with any accompanying evidence if possible (e.g. relevant link to policy position of institution or legal framework clarifying ethics approval is not required or expected for the kind of study/article being submitted). The following standard sentence can be used:

    • The authors declare that research ethics approval was not required for this study.

    4.5.1 Medical research

    Medical research involving human participants or data must be conducted according to the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki.

    Submitted manuscripts should conform to the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, and all articles reporting on studies involving human participants must state that the relevant ethics committee provided ethics approval (or waived its requirement). Please ensure that you have provided the full name and institution of the ethics committee, in addition to the approval number and date of approval. Please include these details on the title page of your submission. For research articles, authors are also required to state in the methods section whether participants provided informed consent and whether the consent was written or verbal.

    Information on informed consent to report on individual cases or case series should be included in the manuscript text. A statement is required regarding whether written informed consent for patient information and images to be published was provided by the participant(s) or a legally authorized representative.

    Please also refer to the ICMJE Recommendations for the Protection of Research Participants

     4.5.2 Non-medical research involving humans and human data

    All manuscripts reporting studies with humans or human data, including studies that involve primary collection of personal data such as surveys or interviews, must state the relevant ethics committee provided (or waived) approval.

    If ethics approval was obtained, please provide the name(s) of the ethics committee(s)/IRB(s) plus the approval number(s)/ID(s). If the study received exemption from ethics approval, please provide the name(s) of the ethics committee(s)/IRB(s) or other authorized body and the reason for exemption. If ethics approval was not sought for the present study, please specify why it was not required and cite the relevant guidelines or legislation where applicable, for the benefit of an international readership. Please include these details on the title page of your submission.

    For empirical research articles, authors are also required to state in the methods section whether participants provided informed consent and whether the consent was written or verbal.

    If you are unsure whether ethics approval is required for your study, please refer to this Editorial.

    4.5.3 Animal studies

    All manuscripts reporting on studies with animals must provide details of the relevant research ethics approval (or waiver). Please include these details on the title page of your submission.

    4.6 Clinical trials

    Many Sage journals conform to the ICMJE requirement that clinical trials are registered in a WHO-approved public trials registry at or before the time of first patient enrolment as a condition of consideration for publication. The trial registry name and URL, and registration number must be included at the end of the abstract.

    Further to the above, other Sage journals may consider retrospectively registered trials if the justification for late registration is acceptable, consistent with the AllTrials campaign. The trial registry name and URL, and registration number must be included at the end of the abstract.

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    5. Publishing Policies

    5.1 Publication ethics

    Sage is committed to upholding the integrity of the academic record. We encourage authors to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ International Standards for Authors and view the Publication Ethics page on the Sage Author Gateway.

    5.1.1 Plagiarism

    Research Ethics and Sage take issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of the journal against malpractice. Submitted articles may be checked with duplication-checking software. Where an article, for example, is found to have plagiarised other work or included third-party copyright material without permission or with insufficient acknowledgement, or where the authorship of the article is contested, we reserve the right to take action including, but not limited to: publishing an erratum or corrigendum (correction); retracting the article; taking up the matter with the head of department or dean of the author's institution and/or relevant academic bodies or societies; or taking appropriate legal action.

    5.1.2 Prior publication

    If material has been previously published it is not generally acceptable for publication in a Sage journal. However, there are certain circumstances where previously published material can be considered for publication. Please refer to the guidance on the Sage Author Gateway or if in doubt, contact the Editor at the address given below.

    5.2 Contributor's publishing agreement

    Before publication Sage requires the author as the rights holder to sign a Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement. Research Ethics publishes manuscripts under Creative Commons licenses. The standard license for the journal is Creative Commons by Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC), which allows others to re-use the work without permission as long as the work is properly referenced and the use is non-commercial. For more information, you are advised to visit Sage's OA licenses page.

    Alternative license arrangements are available, for example, to meet particular funder mandates, made at the author’s request.

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    6. Preparing your manuscript for submission

    You will be asked to upload your anonymised manuscript separately from a title page. Please take note of the requirements for preparation for each of these documents.

    6.1 Main file

    Your main file is your anonymised manuscript. Please ensure that you do not include any identifiable information in your main manuscript. It will consist of the body of your work plus references. You do not need to include the title or abstract as these will be added during the submission process.

    6.2 Title page

    Separate from your anonymised manuscript (main file), please also include a separate title page with the following information:

    • Title
    • Abstract
    • Name of all the authors with institutional affiliations and contact details
    • Ethics approval information
    • Conflict of interest information
    • Funding information
    • Acknowledgements

    6.3 Formatting

    The preferred format for your manuscript is Word. Files should be submitted in a .doc or .docx file format. Word templates are available on the Manuscript Submission Guidelines page of our Author Gateway. It is preferable that all submissions be typed in sans serif font (e.g. Calibri, Helvetica). Double-spacing is also preferred. Keep formatting simple, and avoid unnecessary advanced word processing features, justification, linked objects, or creating your own symbols.

    6.4 Language

    All manuscripts must be written in English.

    6.4.1 Terminology

    Please note that at Research Ethics we actively discourage use of the term ‘research subjects’ when referring to studies that involve human participants. The word ‘subjects’ should only be used when referring to the processing of data (as in ‘data subjects’). As an alternative, please use: humans, persons, participants, research participants or human participants.

    6.5 Artwork, figures and other graphics

    For guidance on the preparation of illustrations, pictures and graphs in electronic format, please visit Sage’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines.

    Figures supplied in colour will appear in colour online.

    6.6 Supplementary material

    This journal is able to host additional materials online (e.g. datasets, podcasts, videos, images etc) alongside the full-text of the article. For more information please refer to our guidelines on submitting supplementary files.

    6.7 Reference style

    Research Ethics adheres to the Sage Harvard reference style. View the Sage Harvard guidelines to ensure your manuscript conforms to this reference style.

    If you use EndNote to manage references, you can download the Sage Harvard EndNote output file.

    6.8 English language editing services

    Authors seeking assistance with English language editing, translation, or figure and manuscript formatting to fit the journal’s specifications should consider using Sage Language Services. Visit Sage Language Services on our Journal Author Gateway for further information.

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    7. Submitting your manuscript

    Research Ethics is hosted on Sage Track, a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit to login and submit your article online.

    IMPORTANT: Please check whether you already have an account in the system before trying to create a new one. If you have reviewed or authored for the journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created.  For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help.

    7.1 ORCID

    As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent and fair peer review process Sage is a supporting member of ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID. ORCID provides a unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from every other researcher, even those who share the same name, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between researchers and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized. 

    The collection of ORCID iDs from corresponding authors is now part of the submission process of this journal. If you already have an ORCID iD you will be asked to associate that to your submission during the online submission process. We also strongly encourage all co-authors to link their ORCID iD to their accounts in our online peer review platforms. It takes seconds to do: click the link when prompted, sign into your ORCID account and our systems are automatically updated. Your ORCID iD will become part of your accepted publication’s metadata, making your work attributable to you and only you. Your ORCID iD is published with your article so that fellow researchers reading your work can link to your ORCID profile, and from there link to your other publications.

    If you do not already have an ORCID iD please follow this link to create one or visit our ORCID homepage to learn more.

    7.2 Title, keywords and abstracts

    Please supply a title, an abstract and keywords to accompany your manuscript. The title, keywords and abstract are key to ensuring readers find your article online through online search engines such as Google. Please refer to the information and guidance on how best to title your article, write your abstract and select your keywords by visiting the Sage Journal Author Gateway for guidelines on How to Help Readers Find Your Article Online.

    All manuscripts should include up to 6 keywords (in alphabetical order) and an abstract of up to 250 words, which is a condensation of the manuscript that contains a statement of purpose, a description of the content, argument, or analysis, and a concise summary of conclusions.


    7.3 Co-authors

    You will be asked to provide contact details and affiliations for all co-authors via the submission system and identify who is to be the corresponding author. These details must match what appears on your manuscript.

    7.3.1. Ethics approval documentation during manuscript submission

    As noted above, for all studies requiring ethics approval, evidence of research ethics approval must be uploaded with your manuscript files during the submission stage. This must show (as a minimum) the name of the ethics committee, the name of the study, the name of the applicant, the ethics approval number/ID, and the date of approval. If an ethics waiver was obtained, please upload evidence of the waiver to include the reason for the waiver.

    In your anonymised main manuscript file, please also include a statement (under a Methods section or a separate section on Ethics Approval) whether your study received ethics approval or a waiver, but ensure that any information that could identify the specific institution or committee that provided the approval or waiver is also anonymised, e.g. “This study received ethics approval from [anonymised] on 10 October 2023."

    7.4 Permissions

    Please also ensure that you have obtained any necessary permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere. For further information including guidance on fair dealing for criticism and review, please see the Copyright and Permissions page on the Sage Author Gateway.

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    8. On acceptance and publication

    8.1 Sage Production

    If your article is accepted, your Sage Production Editor will keep you informed as to your article’s progress throughout the production process. Proofs will be sent by PDF to the corresponding author and should be returned promptly. Authors are reminded to check their proofs carefully to confirm that all author information, including names, affiliations, sequence and contact details are correct, and that Funding and Conflict of Interest statements, if any, are accurate. Please note that if there are any changes to the author list at this stage all authors will be required to complete and sign a form authorising the change.

    8.2 Online publication

    One of the many benefits of publishing your research in an open access journal is the speed to publication. Your article will be published online in a fully citable form with a DOI number as soon as it has completed the production process. At this time it will be completely free to view and download for all.

    8.3 Promoting your article

    Publication is not the end of the process! You can help disseminate your paper and ensure it is as widely read and cited as possible. The Sage Author Gateway has numerous resources to help you promote your work. Visit the Promote Your Article page on the Gateway for tips and advice. 

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    9. Further information

    Any correspondence, queries or additional requests for information on the manuscript submission process should be sent to the Research Ethics editorial office as follows:

    The Editors,
    Research Ethics,

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