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BMC Medical Ethics

Call for Papers

Complex ethical issues and consent to research in LMICs

Edited by Sassy Molyneux (KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme, Kenya) and Susan Bull (University of Oxford, UK)​​​​​​​

The normative importance and practical achievement of valid consent to research participation, particularly in low income settings, is often discussed in bioethics. It is widely accepted that obtaining valid consent to research participation is a benchmark of ethical practise and there is extensive national, regional, and international guidance on how this is to be achieved. Despite this guidance, valid consent to research participation in low income settings is far more than a primarily practical challenge: it remains highly complex  normatively.

Social science literature continues to demonstrate that interesting and complex unresolved issues arise in practice when engaging with and recruiting research participants. An increasing amount of empirical ethics research relating to consent is moving beyond practically challenging issues (such as how best to provide information about research in a comprehensible way) to address complex normative issues arising when designing consent processes and recruiting participants (e.g. how much information about proposed research data sharing is it necessary for participants to understand for their consent to be valid). Given the range and complexity of issues being addressed, and the potential for findings to be valuable in multiple settings, this thematic series aims to bring together research papers and conceptual analyses from a range of low and middle income settings. It is envisaged that the thematic series will contribute to the development of conceptual frameworks for categorising the complex issues and the reasons they arise, the development of policies and processes to support valid consent, and to identify priorities for future conceptual analysis and empirical research.

Empirical ethics research submissions, or theoretical and conceptual approaches, relating to complex ethical issues arising when seeking consent in low and middle income settings are invited.

If you have any research you would like us to consider please submit directly to BMC Medical Ethics. Alternatively you can email your presubmission queries to Liam Messin (

The deadline for submissions of manuscripts is 31st May 2018.​​​​​​​